“The Chicagoan” magazine–1926 version

In 1974 I was a graduate student in History at the University of Chicago. Poking around the Regenstein Library one day, I came across bound volumes of a 1920s magazine titled The Chicagoan.

September 10, 1927--getting ready for Dempsey vs. Tunney

September 10, 1927–getting ready for Dempsey vs. Tunney

I was intrigued. The first issue of The Chicagoan was dated June 14, 1926. In format and attitude it was an obvious rip-off on The New Yorker, which had arrived on the scene about a year earlier.  Decades before the term was coined—incidentally, by a New Yorker writer—Chicago was already exhibiting its Second City Syndrome.

I found contemporary articles about contemporary Chicagoans. I delved into the movie listings for forgotten cinema palaces. I discovered a dismissive review of a soon-to-be theater classic, “The Front Page”—the reviewer referred to it as “Chicago’s latest ordeal by drama.” I immersed myself in the editorials. I especially liked the artwork, both on the cover and throughout the magazine itself.

I eventually read every issue of The Chicagoan from cover to cover.  I even found it helpful in writing my doctoral dissertation.  Then I forgot about it.

November 23, 1929--also the cover of the Harris book

November 23, 1929–also the cover of the Harris book

Some years later, Professor Neil Harris also discovered the old magazine volumes, and he knew what to do with them. The result is a wonderful coffee-table book titled “The Chicagoan”—A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age. Among the treasures in it is a complete reprint of the issue of July 2, 1927.  The book faithfully captures the flavor of a magazine that faithfully captured the flavor of an era.  I heartily recommend it.

The Chicagoan died in 1935, a victim of the Depression. In the decades since, other local-themed magazine have come and gone. Though not as flashy as The Chicagoan—and therefore, not suitable for translation into coffee-table books—each of them also gives a feel for its particular time.  I’ll be looking at a few of them here.



1 Response to ““The Chicagoan” magazine–1926 version”

  1. 1 Greg October 29, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    The Library has scanned everything in its collection and made it freely available


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