Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Journalism

First Advisor

Samir Husni

Second Advisor

Nancy Dupont

Third Advisor

Jeanni Atkins

Abstract

In an effort to illuminate a neglected field of study, this thesis will examine children's magazines in the United States and the forces shaping them. Children's magazines reflect the country's history and attitudes about youth and yet limited research about these important periodicals exists. This look at the development and publication of children's magazines from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries explores selected periodicals from the printing press to the World Wide Web. Significant aspects of research to be assessed are: (1) the status and role of children's magazines (2) changes in publishing and marketing from early times to present, and (3) the future of children's magazines. These periodicals are an important part of the written record of American civilization and an invaluable resource about the tastes, manners, habits, interests, and achievements of United States history. A major change in purpose occurred in the mid-nineteenth century when the tone lightened from "dreary moralizers" and religious conversion was changed to social conversion. "The child was still saved—but for this world not the next." The editorial objective of children's periodicals expanded from educating to include entertaining. Although children's magazine methods of educating and entertaining have changed to accommodate seismic shifts from the Industrial Revolution to the Digital Revolution these two missions have not. Children's magazines have existed in the United States since 1789 when George Washington became the first president and children were considered little adults, and research indicates these periodicals will continue to survive and thrive even with the fate of print in the hands of digital natives.

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