When The Mrs. Came Before The Ms. (As In Magazines, Of Course)…

October 30, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

As they say “There’s nothing new under the sun.” It’s amazing when you start looking at the history of magazines and what has been done and what continues to be done, you quickly discover that there really is nothing new under the sun.

Way before there was a Ms. magazine, which was started by Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes in 1971, Dell Publishing Company had Mrs. magazine that was published in 1939. The magazine is amazing in terms of design; from the cover to the content, to its purse-replica effect and size, the aesthetics are simply brilliant.

And when it comes to actual content, Ms. magazine may get credit for being the historic leader in the Women’s Rights Movement, with articles on abortion, birth control and other, at the time, controversial topics, Mrs. magazine may have been the forerunner for that title. The latter’s articles, such as “Birth Control Is Here To Stay,” “Had My Face Lifted,” “How To Lose A Man,” “Divorce, 57 Varieties,” and “Should My Daughter Be An Actress?” for 1939 were extremely controversial topics themselves. The most amazing thing in the magazine is a divorce “Relief Map of the United States” in which the author notes, “The East is the hardest place for divorce. About 150 marriages collapse out of every thousand. Hollywood holds world championship for divorces. Most Ohio divorces are for neglect and vagrancy. Chicago is the easiest city for divorce, if one is a resident. Divorce rate has increased, but not as fast as the marriage rate. Divorce will never threaten marriage.”

There’s an article that is an actual debate between a husband and wife on whether a husband should have a night off, with the husband saying yes and the wife saying no, a story about women in medicine and why females should not be doctors – written by a woman. Some of the content is certainly reflective of the times, but also very cutting edge for those same times.

And of course, the ads in Ms. are also reflective of our times today as birth control can now be obtained online and of course with no ads in Mrs. (which was completely ad free, similar to what Ms. magazine did during part of its life span) to compare to, who knows if there would have been similarities there as well.

But for a magazine in 1939 called Mrs., I can see some of the cornerstones of a magazine that’s still in print today, Ms. Another striking and surreal similarity (and an accidental one I feel certain) is the resemblance in the most recent cover of Ms. with Mrs. Issue No. 2, the copy I have included with this musing.

This just proves that what’s old becomes new and that beautiful and evocative magazines never go out of style.

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands!

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