American Children's Periodicals: The Youth's Companion


Figure 1.--The magazine catered to teen-age boys and girls especially, containing articles on sports, on hobbies, and on various literary and cultural interests. But it was really a family magazine and had many advertisements for clothing, both adult and children's. This ad for Velvet Grip hosesupporters appeared in the October 26, 1911 issue.

"The Youth's Companion" described itself as "An Illustrated Weekly Paper For Young People and the Family." It was established in 1827. The magazine was published in Boston, Massachusetts, by the Perry Mason Company, 201 Columbus Avenue. It appeared under this title until 1929. It was in the late 19th century one of the most popular weekly periodicals in America and known for the quality of the writing. The magazine catered to teen-age boys and girls especially, containing articles on sports, on hobbies, and on various literary and cultural interests. But it was really a family magazine and had many advertisements for clothing, both adult and children's. The magagazine had a very strict policy about the advertising carried because its readers were mostly children.

The Magazine

The magazine was a weekly publication for children. "The Youth's Companion" described itself as "An Illustrated Weekly Paper For Young People and the Family".

Publication Run

The magazine claims to have been established in 1827. We have no information, however, as to its operation in the early- and mid-19th century. Much more information is available on the late 19th century. We notice the publication offering a calendar in 1879 and trading cards, we think in the 1880s. These cards were popular not only for children to trade, but to pout in family scrap books. Press runs by the 1880s reached quite substantial levels. The magazine was also popular in the early 20century. Circulation began to decline after 1907. We are not sure why. We note advertisements in the magazine during the 1910s and 20s. It was published under this title until 1929.

Publisher

The magazine was published in Boston, Massachusetts, by the Perry Mason Company, 201 Columbus Avenue. We do not know much about this publishing company. Mystery enthusiasts will immediately recognize the name of a classic American murder mystery character. Perry Mason was a defense attorney. (And every person he defended turned out to be innocent.) One wonders if Erle Stanley Gardner read The Youth's Companion as a boy. Apparently he did. The magazine was purchased by Atlantic Monthly Company in Boston (1925). They published the magazine for only a few years. The final Atlantic Monthly issue of The Youth's Companion was published in 1929. The magazine was then incorporated into the American Boy.

Editors

One of its principal editors was Daniel Ford.

Popularity

This relatively little known magazine today, was one of the most popularperiodical publications in the United states. Literary historians point out that The Youth's Companion was either the first or second largest circulation weekly magazine in the United States. The Youth's Companion in the late 19th century had the largest or next to largest circulation of any American weekly magazine. The magazines circulation was about 385,000 (1885), 400,000 (1887) and 475,000 (1892), and over half a million (1898), and 545,000 (1901). Circulation began to decline in 1907, we are not sure precisely why. The circulation was 305,000 (1925).

Contents

The magazine was known for the quality of the writing. The magazine catered to teen-age boys and girls especially, containing articles on sports, on hobbies, and on various literary and cultural interests. The reason for this popularity was largely due to the quality of writing. The magazine published excitiung stories that appealed to children, especially boys. In fact the writing was so good that the parents also often read the magazine. One of the interesting topics touched upon in the magazine was family life, especially children's experiences. There were fascinating stories and illustrations which touched upon domestic life.

Adventure stories

What boys probably enjoyed most in the magazine were thrilling adventure stories which were often illustrated with exiting illustrations. There were stories the entire family could enjoy, but it was the adventure stories tht boys especially enjoyed.

Breaching

This is a very informative illustration of the custom of fitting a boy for his first trousers--the process known as "breeching". The illustration comes from The Youth's Companion for 16 May 1907, p. 241, and shows a boy of about 3 years old getting his first trousers and admiring them in a mirror held by his older brother. The trousers are above-the-knee style knickers. Notice that the boy wears an underwaist over this other underwear. This buttons down the front like a vest and has strap reinforcements under the arms to which the new knickers are fastened. The boy is still young enough (about 2 1/2 or 3 years old) to wear short socks. His older brother, who appears to be about 7 or 8, wears knee pants with long black stockings--the standard trousers for older boys.

School

Here we have a free-standing illustration (no artist's name given) but part of an article on the end of the school year all over the country and the children looking forward to the summer vacation. The article contains nothing about clothing. But the illustration provides an interesting glimse of the younger children at school.

Advertising

While categorized as children's literature, The Youth's Companion was really a family magazine and had many advertisements for clothing, both adult and children's. The magagazine had a very strict policy about the advertising carried because its readers were mostly children. One reason the magazine eventually disappeared is that it had scruples. Some of the major advertizers at the time were companies marketing tobacco, liquor, perfumes and exotic women's underwear. The editors of The Youth's Companion refused all such advertising. As can be seen here, more family oriented advertising such as for children's underwear was acceptable. We note quite a few advertisements for children's clothing. There were ads for Boy Scout items (1926).

The Pledge of Allegiance

One of the matters for which The Youth's Companion is best known is the campaign it launched in 1892 for a "Plerdge of Allegiance" which eventually became adopted by schools all over America.






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Created: 11:52 PM 10/30/2004
Last updated: 9:47 PM 1/16/2005