Magazines were a staple of communication and culture in the 1950s. Because TV was relatively new, 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.
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 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 2014.
Men's Adventure Magazines
Men's adventure magazines enjoyed their heyday in the 1950s, and at one time 50 pulp titles were published and devoured. Pulp 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.
- History As It Happened: History of Life Magazine
- Things and Other Stuff: History of Life Magazine
- Library of Congress: Look Magazine Photo Archives
- Norman Rockwell Museum: The History Behind Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post Covers
- Art of Manliness: Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Vintage Men's Adventure Magazines
- George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images