Newsstand: 1925: Modern Priscilla

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a virtual newsstand from the summer of 1925

Overview

           The Modern Priscilla was published monthly as a sixteen-page quarto

 that was devoted to needlework and everyday housekeeping.(1) The

magazine’s title joined the Victorian concept of the “spinner”

Priscilla Mullins and the 1920s modern woman (Gordon 174).

 

Rates and Distribution

 

The magazine was first published in 1887 in Lynn, Massachusetts under the editors Frank S. Guild and Miss Beulah F. Kellogg. It was originally published by the Priscilla Company, circulating on a small scale.

Subscription rates to the Modern Priscilla started at fifty cents a year. By 1925, the subscription rate was $2.00 a year in the United States and Mexico, $2.25 in Canada, and $2.50 in other countries (ibid). In 1925, the newsstand price was twenty cents per issue. In hopes of expanding in size, scope, and distribution, the Modern Priscilla moved to Boston under the new Modern Priscilla Publishing Co. until 1930 (Mott ibid).

Audience

 

The Modern Priscilla’s audience is self-evident from not only the content of the magazine but also from the large audience of women’s magazine buyers. E. Zuckerman points out that “The amount of women purchasing women’s magazines increased tremendously in the first decades of the 20th century . . . as copies of women’s journals that were sold grew from 18 million to 31 million between 1920 and 1930” (130). This significant increase in the circulation of women’s magazines in the 1920s indicates the cultural importance of these magazines’ contents. Women were becoming more actively interested in reading about current events fiction related to the world they lived in, and new popular housekeeping tools; these interests provided a new forum for editors to create a new women’s magazine. 

 

Editorial Content

 

As more female authors and editors were hired by 1925, the editorial content of the Modern Priscilla eventually became geared toward women’s issues based on women’s perspectives as to where the magazine should go in terms of scope. The magazine “joined other women’s magazines of the early 20th century in providing a vehicle for women to share their ideas about decorating and housekeeping” (Leavitt 102). In 1921, an editorial outlined the magazine’s readership and editorial policy:

The Modern Priscilla finds its readers among the highly intelligent home-abiding women of the country, and in the choice of suitable fiction for them, stories of dramatic interest having to do with the affairs of real people are what is most desired. We do not want sapless stories, but those that are vital, colorful, interesting, and concerned with the actual problems of today. We plan always to publish two stories a month, not over four thousand words in length (Wick 336).

In 1925, the editors solicited for letters and short fiction stories from readers, offering prizes such as money or books written by the housekeeping and needlepoint editors.

The Modern Priscilla magazine opened itself up to allow editors to eventually write and publish books that were based off of the magazine’s content. In 1924, the Modern Priscilla Cookbook was published by the Priscilla Publishing Company in Boston and included one thousand recipes. In 1925, the Modern Priscilla Home Furnishing Book was also published by the Priscilla Publishing Co., which reinforced the idea of the “One Woman-Power Kitchen” (Leavitt 55). This phrase was used to demonstrate the modern understanding that middle-class women would be doing their own kitchen work. In the One Woman-Power Kitchen, “comfortable, convenient, and efficient” are the three qualifications that successfully define the kitchen (Leavitt 55).

In this particular1925 issue, the Modern Priscilla includes (above the table of contents) that it has a paid circulation of 600,000 issues in over 30,000 United States cities. The magazine is divided into two sections: needlepoint and everyday housekeeping. Charles B. Marble was the Managing Editor, Vice President, and Secretary, which by noting how one person filled multiple positions, seems to further prove how small scale the magazine’s size and distribution stayed even after the move to Boston. Each half of the magazine had a female editor of its own. 

 

End of the Run

 

The Modern Priscilla’s run eventually failed in 1930 due to “subscription lists burdened with names that were acquired through ‘tricky’ circulation schemes that advertisers now longer welcomed” (Zuckerman 127). The magazine’s move to New York in 1930 in an effort to compete nationally and the large economic drop in the stock market crash also contributed to its failure (Mott 362). 

—Contextualization by Megan Warden

 

 

Notes

 

1. Frank Luther Mott. A History of American Magazines. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938: 361

 

Works Cited

 

Gordon, Beverly. "Spinning Wheels, Samplers, and the Modern Priscilla: The Images and Paradoxes of Colonial Revival Needlework." Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture 33.2-3 (n.d.): 163-194. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. John C. Pace Library, Pensacola, FL. 18 Sep. 2009

Leavitt, Sarah A. From Catherine Beecher to Martha Stewart: A Cultural History of Domestic Advice. University of North Carolina Press. 2002.

Marrow, Marco. (2007). Agricultural Advertising. No 16. University of Michigan: Long-Critchfield Corporation, 1907.

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938.

Wick, Jean. (1921). The Stories Editors Buy and Why. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company Publishers.

Zuckerman, M. E. (1998). A History of Popular Women's Magazines in the United States, 1792-1995. Contributions in Women's Studies, no. 165. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

 

 

click cover for magazine

July 1925

Genre:

Woman’s Magazine

Publisher:

Priscilla Publishing Co.

Place of Publication:

Boston, MA

Years of Run:

1887-1930

Frequency of Publication:

Monthly

Circulation in 1925:

Approximately 600,000