The Age of Magazines

The Age of Magazines
Barbara Bush: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One to two class periods


Barbara Bush was especially aware of the growth of large circulation magazines.  Her father was chairman of the McCall Corporation, the parent company of a leading women’s magazine in the middle of the 20th century.


The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with the number of major magazines of general and specialty interests that developed during the 20th century and to trace their growth.    

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet.  Access to a history textbook.


Ask students what magazines they read most frequently in the school’s media center/library, or the kinds of magazines they have access to at home. 
Divide the class into groups and assign each group one of the following magazines.  Their job is to trace their magazine’s history and circulation figures, relate the events in the magazine’s history with a timeline for the United States (creating a dual timeline), identify correlations if there are any, and summarize their findings on a note card to be mounted on the classroom timeline.  Possible magazines to consider are: 
  1. Better Homes and Gardens
  2. Reader’s Digest
  3. Life Magazine
  4. Progressive Farmer
  5. Ebony
  6. Highlights for Children
  7. Seventeen
  8. National Enquirer
  9. TV Guide
  10. Rolling Stone Magazine

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may wish for students to create their own dual timeline in which they note only those events that impacted the history and circulation figures of their publication.  The media specialist can be of great assistance in this lesson.

Sources & Resources:


Each of the publications has its own website with much information available.  These can be accessed by means of a standard Google search.



This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.