When I first found my way onto the Post archive via Newspapers(dot)com, I reveled in the ability to instantly call up a hundred plus citations of topics like “skyscrapers,” “theaters” or “parkways.” While many of the results lead to ads or dense paragraphs, quite a few lead to fascinating, illustrated articles. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying dense text is bad–I read books–but old newspaper illustrations are in a class of their own. For example:
How neat is that? And the thing is–you have to put yourself in the shoes of someone reading this in the period. These photos/illustrations weren’t just for the literate class but really, for anyone who could pick up a newspaper and flip it to the magazine section. It was a way of finding out news about local and even global current affairs. From these pages readers could glean insightful, interesting data about the life of the rich and famous, skyscrapers local and national, new technologies in transportation and warfare and on and on and on. Check out this page from January of 1918, in the thick of the first World War.
I’m pretty sure these photographs were just as impressive for folks at home who had never set eyes on a tank as it was for the young men in the trenches. And still, these pages are still awe inspiring. To me, and I’m sure to you as well. But, the real treats found in the Sunday Magazine issues are the double spreads. Remember that illustration from the New Cathedral above? Check this out:
The double-page feature could also include maps, identifying various points of interest such as office buildings, parks, or other points of interest. Many of these maps were views artists rendered after getting a bird’s eye view, either in a hot air balloon, or later, airplane. I think you’ll agree, they’re pretty stunning.
Thus, what you’ll find here as time progresses is a collection of some of my favorite Sunday Magazine issues. I want to be up front, a lot of the older issues are hard to read–hence, my appreciation for the illustrator’s work more than anything. Where the text is legible, I’ll make sure to accompany the photographs with a downloadable PDF. I encourage you to share these with your friends. The best history, is a public history.