Sunday, December 7, 2008
The paragraph below comes direcrly from the PBS "American Experience" website. The importance and impact of this wonderful anarchist magazine is self-evident- I obtained this issue a few years ago from a book scout who knew of my interest in rare magazine. I have never seen another copy of the first issue (apparantly nor had PBS). A publishing milestone of a great woman unafraid to back down from her principles.
The first issue of Mother Earth, with a print run of 3000 copies, hit newsstands in March 1906. For a dime, readers got a showcase of anarchist and radical writings on current events, as well as poetry and fiction. Editor Emma Goldman kept the monthly in circulation until August 1917, despite conflicts with the U.S. Postal Service and law enforcement authorities who found its content "treasonable." Goldman's circle of friends and associates -- especially Alexander Berkman, a professional typesetter -- helped shape each issue at meetings in Goldman's apartment. "My room was the living-room, dining room, and Mother Earth office, all in one," she said. By 1918, in a repressive wartime environment federal authorities had seized lists naming over 8,000 subscribers to Mother Earth, targeting them for investigation.
I've added a few other images of "radical" magazines of that era from my collection- The Masses issue is one of three I own that was banned by the Post Office for its radical content. The Liberator was a monthly magazine established by Max Eastman and his sister Crystal Eastman in 1918 to continue the work of Masses, after it was shut down by the wartime mailing regulations of the american government. It combined astute radical political coverage of events of the day, fine art, poetry, and some of the best left-wing political cartoons in the history of American journalism. Take a look at the list of contributors to Comrade. You'll find an interesting "radical" there, probably best remembered for his adventure story about a dog of the frozen north (which, incidentally,first appeared as a serialization in a decididly unradical magazine, The Saturday Evening Post in 1903).
Other excellent examples of how magazines reflected the cutting edge and controversies of the culture of their time and the joy of magazine collecting.
Posted by Steven Lomazow M.D. at 9:31 AM