Pages from the Past

History and Memory in American Magazines

By Carolyn Kitch

272 pp., 5.75 x 9.25, 24 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5649-9
    Published: September 2005
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7689-3
    Published: May 2006

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Awards & distinctions

2006 James W. Carey Media Research Award, Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research

A 2006 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

American popular magazines play a role in our culture similar to that of public historians, Carolyn Kitch contends. Drawing on evidence from the pages of more than sixty magazines, including Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Black Enterprise, Ladies' Home Journal, and Reader's Digest, Kitch examines the role of journalism in creating collective memory and identity for Americans.

Editorial perspectives, visual and narrative content, and the tangibility and keepsake qualities of magazines make them key repositories of American memory, Kitch argues. She discusses anniversary celebrations that assess the passage of time; the role of race in counter-memory; the lasting meaning of celebrities who are mourned in the media; cyclical representations of generational identity, from the Greatest Generation to Generation X; and anticipated memory in commemoration after crisis events such as those of September 11, 2001.

Bringing a critically neglected form of journalism to the forefront, Kitch demonstrates that magazines play a special role in creating narratives of the past that reflect and inform who we are now.

About the Author

Carolyn Kitch is associate professor of journalism at Temple University and author of The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media.
For more information about Carolyn Kitch, visit the Author Page.


"Pages from the Past is an insightful study that explores a wide range of American magazines . . . and the 'collective memories' they establish."--Journal of American Studies

"Through narrative and rhetorical analysis, this book converses with photographic history, American studies, public history, media history, linguistics, anthropology, pop culture, gerontology, and more."--American Journalism

"Kitch demonstrates how, for decades, leading journals such as Life and Time have provided readers with an extensive account of recent American history that has mostly affirmed the worthiness of the American nation and some of its values. She makes the important point that this narrative of national life worked assiduously to connect private lives to a larger national consciousness. Pages from the Past is a significant contribution to the study of journalism, the media, memory, and nationalism."--John Bodnar, Indiana University