06 October 2009

Research: Life Magazine

By Carrie Lofty

Earlier this summer, my dad mentioned a site where a merchant was selling issues of Life magazine. Each sales entry included detailed notes as to the contents of that issue. He thought this might be a good research tool for me, in that I could look up an issue from any given week during the war and discover what people would've been buzzing about. Excellent idea!

However, Google decided to do one better. And my husband, Keven, being the internet perusal dude that he is, sent me this link. Yes, it's every issue of Life magazine from 1935 through the 1970s, including all of the advertisement pages. It's...it's...mind-blowing. If I miss out on valuable TV time because of this, I'll know who to blame/credit. Keven's computer addiction. And the Almighty Google.

(Speaking of which, now I'm all paranoid. What if they take them all down? Gasp! I might have to download a few...or a lot...)

So I looked up the dates around Pearl Harbor. The December 8, 1941 issue apparently ran as planned with no mention of the attack. The Dec 15 issue has a story with many pictures, and the Dec 22 issue is chock full of war news, complete with an American flag on the cover. This is an invaluable resource, not only for the news, photos, advertisements, glimpses at popular culture, and even the writing style--they used a lot more words, descriptions, and colorful adjectives than magazines do today--but also as a window into the pace of life.

Here's a photo that caught my eye. Adorable pose. So sweet! And she looks like she could've been a movie star. Then again, any pretty girl dolled up in 40s gear makes me think that, if only because the dressy garb looks so elegant--clothes we would reserve for Hollywood now. The caption made me tear up. See? That's a very different writing style than a popular news publication would use now.

Damn, this is cool.