Women's Magazines, 1940-1960: Gender Roles and the Popular Press / Edition 1

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During and following World War II, women's magazines served as advice manuals, fashion guides, marriage counselors, and catalogs. This thematically arranged collection of selections from Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, McCall's, Redbook, and others provides a resource for understanding how the popular press perceived and attempted to influence women's values, goals, and behavior in the postwar era.

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Editorial Reviews

Collects 54 articles from mass-circulation magazines for women published between 1940 and 1960. The book is designed primarily for courses in American history, American studies, women's studies, and popular culture. The articles are grouped into subject areas such as WWII, women and the workplace, marriage and motherhood, homemaking, fashion and beauty, and critiques of the women's magazines. Introductions to each section provide historical context. Appends discussion questions and suggestions for further reading. Distributed by St. Martin's Press. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312102012
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 3/15/1998
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 5.27 (w) x 7.72 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy A. Walker is a professor of English and former director of the women's studies program at Vanderbilt University. Previously she has taught at Stephens College, where she served as chair of the department of languages and literature from 1984 to 1989. A specialist in American women writers, she has published A Very Serious Thing: Women's Humor and American Culture (1988): Feminist ALternatives: Irony and Fantasy in the Contemporary Novel by Women (1990); and The Disobedient Writer: Women and Narrative Tradition (1995). She is editor of Redressing the Balance: American Women's Humor from the Colonies to the 1980s (1988); Communication: The Autobiography of Rachel Maddux (1991); and Kate Chopin's The Awakening: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism (Bedford Books, 1993).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


The Role of the Women's Magazines
Women and Society

1. World War II
1. "What Do the Women of America Think about War?" Ladies' Home Journal, February 1940
2. Pearl S. Buck, "Women and War," Ladies' Home Journal, May 1940
3. Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, "Women Work for Their Country," Woman's Home Companion, December 1941
4. "How a Woman Should Wear a Uniform," Good Housekeeping, August 1942
5. " Meet the Berckmans: The Story of a Mother Working on Two Fronts," Ladies' Home Journal, October 1942
6. J. Edgar Hoover, "Mothers. . .Our Only Hope," Woman's Home Companion, January 1944
7. James Madison Wood, "Should We Draft Mothers?" Woman's Home Companion, January 1944
8. Alfred Tooms, "War Babies," Woman's Home Companion, April 1944
9. "When Your Soldier Comes Home," Ladies' Home Journal October 1945

2. Women and the Workplace
10. Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Women in Politics," Good Housekeeping, April 1940
11. "You Can't Have a Career and Be a Good Wife," Ladies' Home Journal, January 1944
12. Alice Hamilton, M.D., "Why I Am against the Equal Rights Amendment," Ladies' Home Journal, July 1945
13. Jennifer Colton, "Why I Quit Working," Good Housekeeping, September 1951
14. "Women in Flight," Mademoiselle, December 1952
15. "The Married Woman Goes Back to Work," Woman's Home Companion, October 1956

3. Marriage and Motherhood
16. Helen Welshimer, "My Husband Says --," Good Housekeeping, February 1940
17. Wainwright Evans, "Are Good Mothers 'Unfaithful' Wives?" Better Homes and Gardens July 1941
18. "What's on Your Mind," Redbook, 1945
19. Amram Scheinfeld, "Are American Moms a Menace?" Ladies' Home Journal, November 1945
20. "Are You Too Educated to Be a Mother?" Ladies' Home Journal, June 1946
21. "What Makes Wives Dissatisfied?" Woman's Home Companion, April 1947
22. Clifford R. Adams, "Making Marriage Work," Ladies' Home Journal, January 1948
23. Mrs. Dale Carnegie, "How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead," Coronet, January 1954
24. Paul H. Landis, "What Is 'Normal' Married Love?" Coronet, October 1957
25. Beryl Pfizer, "Six Rude Answers to One Rude Question," McCall's, July 1960

4. Homemaking
26. Grace L. Pennock, "Starting from Scratch," Ladies' Home Journal, April 1940
27. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "Housekeeping Need Not Be Dull," Ladies' Home Journal, October 1941
28. Dr. Carl P. Sherwin, "The Questions-Box," Good Housekeeping, January 1944
29. M. F. K. Fisher, "The Lively Art of Eating," Harper's Bazaar, November 1944
30. Dorothy Thompson, "Occupation-Housewife," Ladies' Home Journal, March 1949
31. Helen W. Kendall, "Electric Mixers -- Strong Right Arms," Good Housekeeping, January 1950
32. Jane Whitbread and Vivian Cadden, "Granny's on the Pan," Redbook, November 1951
33. Robert J. Knowlton, "Your Wife Has an Easy Racket," American Magazine, November 1951
34. Paul Jones, "Is There a Plot against Women?" Ladies' Home Journal, July 1954
35. Selma Robinson, "103 Women Sound Off!" McCall's, February 1959
36. Joyce Lubold, "My Love Affair with the Washing-Machine Man," McCalls, June 1960

5. Fashion and Beauty
37. Ruth Anna Read, "Those Simple Little Exercises," Good Housekeeping, July 1940
38. "The Mood Has Changed," Harper's Bazaar, September 1944
40. Sally Berry, "Do You Make These Beauty Blunders?" Good Housekeeping, April 1944
41. Elizabeth Pope, "What Is a 'Well-Dressed Woman'?" Redbook, July 1945
42. Janet Engel, "The Fattest Girl in the Class," Seventeen, January 1948
43. "The Lass with the Delicate Air," Mademoiselle July 1949
44. "At My Age," Harper's Bazaar December 1949
45. "The Line Forms Here," Mademoiselle, July 1952
46. Ernice Peck, "Accessory after the Body," Madamoiselle October 1952
47. "Making Less of Yourself," Harper's Bazaar, September 1955
48. Elinor Goulding Smith, "How to Look Halfway Decent," McCall's, February 1959

6. Critiques of the Women's Magazines, 1946-1960
49. Elizabeth Bancroft Schlesinger, "The Women's Magazines," New Republic, March 1946
50. Ann Griffith, "The Magazines Women Read," American Mercury March 1949
51. Marghanita Laski, "What Every Woman Knows by Now," Atlantic Monthly, May 1950
52. Mary McCarthy, "Up the Ladder from Charm to Vogue," Reporter, July 1950
53. Katherine M. Byrne, "Happy Little Wives and Mothers," America, January 1956
54. Joan Didion, "Marriage a la Mode," National Review, August 1960


Questions for Consideration
Suggestions for Further Reading


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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Historical proof of women's capabilities to manage crises

    History shows that women have been classified only as hearthkeepers and nurturers, a fact that continues to plague those women who strive for political and business careers today. The striking images from WW2 women's magazines reveal the cultural tendency to focus on women's innate duties of family and home, with a chilling emphasis on fashion and beauty, even during a time of rationing, shortages, and war deaths. Later, presidential elections were featured with articles about candidates and wives as if the most important consideration in voting was to select the nicest man and the best housekeeper. Dorothy Thompson, one of the few truly great journalists of the era,who happened to be female as well, wrote a terrific article about women as housewives in March 1949. Her arguments for recognition of housewives as a vital economic and cultural force in America still ring true. In fact, Thompson's arguments in 1949 offer the best reasons for women to be elected to public office in the third millennium: Housewives are business managers, accountants, teachers, private secretaries, economists, counselors, etc., who have the economic ability to overcome income deficiencies, weigh alternative policies, and solve problems. Add to these qualifications the workforce skills of all housewives today who also have careers outside the home and you have the perfect solution to the economic crisis caused by one-gender control of government and business!

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