Sunday, November 11, 2007
Collier's Weekly was an American magazine founded by Peter Fenelon Collier and published from 1888 to 1957. With the passage of decades, the title was shortened to Collier's.
As a result of Peter Collier's pioneering investigative journalism, Collier's Weekly established a reputation as a proponent of social reform. When attempts by various companies to sue Collier ended in failure, other magazines became involved in what Theodore Roosevelt described unflatteringly as "muckraking journalism."
When Norman Hapgood became editor of Collier's Weekly in 1903, he attracted many leading writers. In May, 1906, he commissioned Jack London to cover the San Francisco earthquake, a report accompanied by 16 pages of pictures. Under Hapgood's guidance, Collier's Weekly began publishing the work of investigative journalists such as Samuel Hopkins Adams, Ray Stannard Baker, C.P. Connolly and Ida Tarbell. Hapgood's approach had great impact, resulting in such changes as the reform of the child labor laws, slum clearance and women's suffrage. In April, 1905, an article by Upton Sinclair, "Is Chicago Meat Clean?", persuaded the Senate to pass the 1906 Meat Inspection Act.
Starting October 7, 1905, Adams startled readers with "The Great American Fraud," an 11-part Collier's series. Analyzing the contents of popular patent medicines, Adams pointed out that the companies producing these medicines were making false claims about their products and some were health hazards. Hapgood launched the series with the following editorial:
In the present number we print the first article in "The Great American Fraud" series, which is to describe thoroughly the ways and methods, as well as the evils and dangers, of the patent medicine business. This article is but the opening gun of the campaign, and is largely introductory in character, but it will give the reader a good idea of what is to come when Mr. Adams gets down to peculiarities. The next article, to appear two weeks hence, will treat of "Peruna and the 'Bracers'," that is, of those concoctions which are advertised and sold as medicines, but which in reality are practically cocktails.
Since these articles on patent medicine frauds were announced in Collier's some time ago, most of the makers of alcoholic and opiated medicines have been running to cover, and even the Government has been awakened to a sense of responsibility. A few weeks ago the Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued an order to his Collectors, ordering them to exact a special tax from the manufacturer of every compound composed of distilled spirits, "even though drugs have been added thereto." The list of "tonics," "blood purifiers" and "cures" that will come under this head has not yet been published by the Treasury Department, but it is bound to include a good many of the beverages which, up to the present time, have been soothing the consciences while stimulating the palates of the temperance folk. The next official move will doubtless be against the opium-sellers; but these have likewise taken fright, and several of the most notorious "consumption cures" no longer include opium or hasheesh in their concoction.
"The Great American Fraud" had a powerful impact and led to the first Pure Food and Drug Act (1906). The entire series was reprinted by the American Medical Association in a book, The Great American Fraud, which sold 500,000 copies at 50 cents each.
Hapgood had a huge influence on public opinion, and between 1909 and 1912, he succeeded in doubling the circulation of Collier's from a half million to a million. When he moved on to Harper's Weekly in 1912, he was replaced as editor for the next couple years by Robert J. Collier, the son of the founder.
Writers such as Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, who reported on the Spanish Civil War, helped boost the circulation. Winston Churchill, who wrote an account of the First World War, was a regular contributor during the 1930s, but his series of articles ended in 1938 when he became a minister in the British government. Other writers included Willa Cather, Zane Grey, Ring Lardner, Sinclair Lewis, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Carl Fick, Ruth Burr Sanborn, Albert Payson Terhune and H.C. Witwer.
Editors and writers
Collier's circulation battle with The Saturday Evening Post led to the creation of The Collier Hour, broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from 1927 to 1932. It was radio's first major dramatic anthology, adapting stories and serials from Collier's. Airing on the Wednesday before weekly publication, it switched to Sundays to avoid spoilers with stories being aired simultaneously with the magazine. In 1929, in addition to the dramatizations, it offered music, news, sports and comedy.
Serializing novels during the late 1920s, Collier's Weekly sometimes simultaneously ran two ten-part novels, and non-fiction was also serialized. Between 1913 and 1949, Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu serials, illustrated by Joseph Clement Coll and others, were hugely popular. The Mask of Fu Manchu, which was adapted into a 1932 film and a 1951 Wally Wood comic book, was first published as a 12-part Collier's serial, running from May 7 to July 23, 1932. The May 7 issue displayed a memorable cover illustration by famed maskmaker Władysław T. Benda, and his mask design for that cover was repeated by many other illustrators in subsequent adaptations and reprints.
Leading illustrators and cartoonists contributed to Collier's, including Charles Addams, Carl Anderson, Stan and Jan Berenstain, Sam Berman, Howard Chandler Christy. Sam Cobean, Harrison Fisher, James Montgomery Flagg, A.B. Frost, Jay Irving, Crockett Johnson, E.W. Kemble, Hank Ketcham, Percy Leason, David Low, J. C. Leyendecker, Bill Mauldin, John Cullen Murphy, Virgil Partch, Mischa Richter, John Sloan, Frederic Dorr Steele, William Steig, Charles Henry "Bill" Sykes, Richard Taylor, Gluyas Williams, Gahan Wilson and Rowland B. Wilson. In 1903, Charles Dana Gibson signed a $100,000 contract, agreeing to deliver 100 pictures (at $1000 each) during the next four years. From 1904 to 1910, Maxfield Parrish was under exclusive contract to Collier's, which published his famed Arabian Nights paintings in 1906-07. After WWII, Harry Devlin became the top editorial cartoonist at Collier's, one of the few publications to display editorial cartoons in full color.
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