Image courtesy of Grolier Club.

Free admission (all visitors, all hours)


This exhibition is a study of how magazines have both driven and reflected the American experience. Unlike regional newspapers, that report local current events, or non-fiction books, which focus on major historical moments and personalities, national magazines have the unique ability to connect trans-local communities of like-minded individuals. In the colonial era, magazines were the harbingers of American thought and identity; the first successful magazine from the 18th century proudly proclaimed itself as “The American Magazine” in 1743 and the first printed statement of American independence appeared in “The Pennsylvania Magazine” in July 1776.

As they expanded in both number and scope, magazines fostered the development of distinct communities of Americans by creating extensive networks of communication between people who otherwise would not have been in contact with one another. In studying their development, we learn the histories of the Americans who were not featured in local newspapers: farmers and tradesmen; women and children; poets, humorists, and artisans, reformers and religious groups of every denomination and ethnicity. Periodical publications today remain a primary source of information about the American experience.

The exhibition is arranged in two sections. The first presents a chronological history of American magazines from the 17th to the 21st centuries and features such high spots as The Lowell Offering published in the 1840s by the girls employed in the Lowell Mills; the first appearance of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in The American Review in February 1845; and the first African-American magazine The Mirror of Liberty published by an African-American, David Ruggles, who ran an underground railroad in New York City.  The second section celebrates the broad spectrum of American culture including the first issue of National Geographic, the first account of the Wright Brothers’ successful flight at Kitty Hawk in Gleanings in Bee Culture, early computer magazines, and highlights from the “United We Stand” campaign that raised the funds that brought about the Allied victory in WWII.

The accompanying exhibition catalog is an important source of magazine history as well as a tribute to this great American art from. It includes a series of essays on the history of American magazines as well as studies of specific genres, authored by leading experts in that field. The book is illustrated with over 400 color images of the first issues and highlights of the most important periodicals in American history.

Dr. Steven Lomazow has been collecting American periodicals since 1972 and has authored books, blogs and catalogs on the subject. His collection is widely recognized as the finest magazine collection in private hands.

The first of two virtual panel discussions on the themes of the Grolier Club exhibition “Magazines and the American Experience”

About this Event

This panel discussion will focus on “Magazines as Primary Sources,” with speakers Heather Havemann (UC Berkeley), Kirsten MacLeod (Newcastle University, Scotland), Julie Golia (New York Public Library), Len Banco (Watkinson Library), and Steven Lomazow, M.D. (co-curator/collector). Q&A session follows.

This will be a live online event, via Zoom, and attendees will receive an email with the Zoom link prior to the event. For those unable to join us for the session, the lecture will be recorded and made available on the Grolier Club’s Vimeo page:

The associated exhibition, “Magazines and the American Experience,” will be open in our first floor gallery from January 20 – April 24, 2021. Admission is free, but reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance via Eventbrite.