Saturday, September 19, 2009

U.S. News and World Report. An Unexplained Mystery

I've had this magazine for quite some time and am still to resolve a small mystery. As you can see, it is the October 2, 1939 issue of United States News and is unequivocally stated as Volume 1 Number 1. That's were the problem arises.

Here is the crux of the listing in the Union List of Serials (ULS) (the third and definitive edition), an indispensible adjunct to any magazine historian, for this title.

I guess we should digress a bit to explain the terminology as you see it. The + after 1933 means that the title was still being published as of 1965. The + after the letters at the bottom means that the individual holding is continuous and ongoing. The abbreviations represent individual institutions, with the first letter being a key to their location. A key appears at the front of each of the individual five volumes. DLC, for instance, is the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia. Az 8+, means that The University of Arizona holds all volumes from the eighth onward.

The publication history is contained in the first large paragraph, indicating here that prior to 1933, when the current numbering began, it was a newspaper (that's a whole other set of books, see for more info).

As you can see the present day U.S. News and World Report is an amalgam of two magazines.

The problem that arises is that ULS clearly states that the first magazine issue was January 1, 1940. Even more confusing is that it makes no mention whatsoever of this Volume One Number One issue in October 1939.

There are no indications within the magazine that it was a dummy or trial issue and I've not seen another one from this era. Since the format closely resembles United States News of the forties, my best guess is that it was an experiment that eventually merged into the present run, but that admittedly is just a guess.

I would state though, that I probably have a copy of the only number one issue magazine of this title (I've seen many of the newspaper format issues but have never had the first one from 1933).

All a bit crazy and perhaps much ado about nothing, but its a lot of fun for this collector and that's really what collecting and cataloging (spelling?) is all about.

I offer a copy of my 1995 bibliography to anyone that can solve the mystery! Thanks to the king of twentieth century first issues, David Leishman, for supplying two of the images (WR and USNWR). I know I have them somewhere but can't put my hands on them.

Its a bright, crisp and beautiful fall day here in the Garden State. Exactly the type of day that stops me from being a resident of Florida or Arizona. Have a great one!

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