Magazines in the 1950s

Written by laura preble
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Magazines in the 1950s
Before TV became popular, magazines flourished in the 1950s. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Magazines were a staple of communication and culture in the 1950s. Because TV was relatively new, the print media was the main way that most people kept track of trends and world events. The variety of magazines in the 1950s was astounding and covered topics ranging from fashion to hot rod cars.

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Life Magazine

One of the most prominent magazines in the 1950s was Life magazine. It began in 1936, and it has been part of the American landscape since, depending heavily on photographs to document the American experience. Its popularity soared when it became the primary photographic record of World War II, and that popularity continued into the '50s.

Look Magazine

Look magazine imitated the model of Life magazine and used photojournalism as its claim to fame. With more than 5 million photos archived in the Library of Congress for Women's History alone, Look has contributed more than any other publication to the historical record. In the 1950s, it was known for recording much of American culture, from fashion to popular cars.

The Saturday Evening Post

Known for its Norman Rockwell covers, the Saturday Evening Post was a staple of modern American life throughout the 1950s. It was the first magazine to reach 1 million copies sold. It traded more in writing than Look and Life, featuring stories from such notable authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner and Sinclair Lewis. It is still published as of 2011.

Men's Adventure Magazines

Men's adventure magazines enjoyed their heyday in the 1950s, and at one time 50 pulpy titles were published and enjoyed. These magazines cost about a quarter, and were widely read in barbershops and drugstores, with an estimated readership in the hundreds of thousands. Most featured stories of adventure in war or the jungle, or slightly more racy tales of love and lust.

Magazines in the 1950s
The '50s man enjoyed reading tales of adventure in pulpy magazines. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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