Treasures of the Library: Old, Big Magazines

While perusing the magazine shelves at the Central Library one day, I came across some very large, very aged magazines we have in our collection that aren’t in publication anymore. I took a look. I was delighted with what I found inside. Each one is about  11 inches by 17 inches in size (they are in our “Oversize” magazine collection).

These are a few of the magazines I found very enticing:
The Graphic. An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper

Saturday, July 8, 1871

Full of beautiful illustrations, this was published in England and available (at the time) for sixpence halfpenny.
Apparel Arts
March, 1940

Published by Esquire Inc.

This men’s fashion magazine (featuring “authentic Esquire fashions”) has actual material swatches (shown here) that were meant to be chosen from for a man’s sports coat. Continue reading “Treasures of the Library: Old, Big Magazines”

20,000 Magazines at Your Fingertips

While an increasing number of magazines and newspapers have been succumbing to the economic downturn – either disappearing entirely or moving to online publication only—Google and some publishers are beginning to make the full content of magazine archives available online for free. A few of the magazines with substantial digital content and archives are Baseball Digest (1945-2007), Jet (1961-2008), New York Magazine (1968-1997), Popular Mechanics (1905-2005) and Popular Science (1872-2008). The Life Photo Archive offers millions of photos as well.

Koolhaasian Magazine Stack 2These are all wonderful resources, but in reality the number of magazines available for free online is still very small. Google, for example, offers about 150 different magazines, a tiny fraction of the more than 300,000 magazines currently in print or no longer being published. Most magazines still restrict access to their online content, either providing it only to subscribers, limiting access to only certain material or not making digital content available at all. How many times have you gone to a magazine’s website looking for a particular article, only to be met by a message telling you that “To read this article in full, please login or purchase a subscription?”

Continue reading “20,000 Magazines at Your Fingertips”

A Feast of Words

2009-10-16-gourmet_coverNext month, you may have trouble finding Gourmet magazine on the library shelves. This time, though, it’s not just that somebody else is already flipping through page after deliciously glossy page.  After nearly 70 years of publication, Gourmet will release its final issue this November.  It’s collateral damage in publisher Condé Nast’s desperate bid to turn a profit in a market which is increasingly unfriendly to traditional print.  After all, why spend the big bucks to advertise in a monthly magazine with a million subscribers when that many people may view an Internet ad in a week? 

The cut was sudden and final, leaving even editor Ruth Reichl “stunned.”  Over the past ten years, she has breathed new life into Gourmet.  Whether you loved or hated her (and most people seem to feel strongly one way or the other), she brought a new vision and passion to the iconic magazine. Read more about her here, and keep an eye out for her upcoming cookbook. 

Have a Gourmet subscription?  You’ll receive Bon Appétit instead.  The newly launched will also disappear, but old Gourmet recipes will continue to be accessible through   (To me, this one is no great loss — I adore the beautiful and easy-to-browse Epicurious, but have not been particularly captivated by

Vintage Gourmet Magazine CoverNothing can completely replace the country’s oldest food magazine.  But if you’re starving for a good read, you may want to consider Saveur, which carries on Gourmet’s tradition of long-form food journalism.  Fine Cooking and Cook’s Illustrated offer sophisticated techniques and recipes not often found in their checkout-aisle counterparts, but lack visual appeal.  

At the feast of words, there is one less delicious dish on the table.  But rather than mourn the empty plate, I’d like to take a moment to reminisce and digest.  How has Gourmet enriched our homes, our kitchens, and our family gatherings over the years?  Personally, I will never get over the vegetarian cassoulet — I have honestly never smelled anything so divine in my life. 

Do you have any favorite issues, articles or recipes to share?

Easier searching at

Did you notice a change on our website on Wednesday?  We’ve made it possible to search the library’s catalog and a wide variety of magazines, encyclopedias and other databases all with one search box.  With one search box you can get results from Time, National Geographic, Business Week, Psychology Today,  the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and hundreds of other publications as well as the hundreds of thousands of books, videos and CDs in the Seattle Public Library’s catalog.  Click on the video below to learn how.