United States Publications: McCall's Magazine (1880?- )


Figure 1.-- .

McCall's has been a leading fashion and women's domestic magazine. It was founded in the 19th century, although I have only limited details. It was founded as The Queen about 1880. It was at first primarily to sell patterns. The title was changed to The Queen of Fashion. The title McCalls was adopted about 1897. McCalls did not become a major mass-market publication until the turn of the century. The circulation peaked at 6 million in 1960. The content varied over time, but fashion was always an important element. The magazine included the work of impotant authors like Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gelett Burgess, Ray Bradbury, Jack Finney, Anne Tyler, Tim O'Brien, and many more. Two of the major editors were: Harry Payne Burton (192128) and Otis L. Wiese (192849). McCalls was a major company publishing home sewing patterns. McCalls because it published an important woman's magazine could easily market its home sewing patterns. We have found a few McCalls patterns from the early 20th century. An example is a tunic suit which McCalls calls a Russian suit. The patterns at the time cost 10-15 cents. Notice that there were outlets in New York, Chicago, San Franciso, and Toronto. The Toronto outlet shows how closely tied the American and Canadian economies were and helps explain similarities in American and Canadian fashions. A McCalls pattern published in 1908 is another example. We note that by 1916 that they were publishing a catalog of their patterns which appared to emphasize clothing for women and children. McCalls continues to be a major factor in the pattern and home sewing business. The McCalls webite for Spring 2002 reads, "McCalls introduces the newst designs in glamerous evening and bridal dressing. Browse through the McCalls website and you'll find a great selection of brightly colored children's and infant's wear, cozy sleepwear, fleece-wear, and women's/large sizes. You'll also find fun accesories, home decorating, crafts and even Renaissance costume patterns!"

Chronology

McCall's has been a leading fashion and women's domestic magazine. It was founded in the 19th century, although I have only limited details. One source indicates that it was founded as The Queen about 1880. It was at first primarily to sell patterns. The title was changed to The Queen of Fashion. The title McCalls was adopted about 1897. Another source indicated that McCall's was founded in 1878. Originally in competed with Goodey's and Harper's. McCalls did not become a major mass-market publication until the turn of the century. The circulation peaked at 6 million in 1960.

Content

The content varied over time, but fashion was always an important element. The magazine was founded as platform for selling patterns. From the beginning dress patterns and homemaking articles were featured. The magazine became an important literary outlet. It featured the work of impotant authors, including Ray Bradbury, Gelett Burgess, Willa Cather, Robert Chambers, Jack Finney, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tim O'Brien, Anne Tyler, and many more. Two of the major editors were: Harry Payne Burton (192128) and Otis L. Wiese (192849).

Covers

Covers with the advent of color printing and photo printging became critical to selling magazines on newsrands. For many years McCall's cobers featured attractive ladies, fashionably dressed. Sometimes the ladies chosen were literary characters or historical fashions. Mostly they were ladies in contemporary fashions. Occassionally children were featured, but a lone single woman was the standard for many years. A collection of covers from the 1920s-30s is available on a Miskatonic University website.

Women's Magazines

Women's magazines are particularly important to HBC because of all the fashion information and domestic information included. They are a particvularly extensive source because they were so financially successful. They not only included patterns, fashion and home making articles, but also a wide range of advertising. Advertisers were attracted to women's magazines because it was the wife and mother thast was the main factor in buying consumer products, especially domestic products. The husband may have earned the family income, but the wife did much of the spending. The most important women's magazines in te 20th century were called the Seven Sisters. They included: Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, Redbook, and Woman's' Day. The Seven Sisters were primarily for married women. There were more cutting edge women's magazines for younger women, both women not yet married or married women who were less interested in domestic life. These magazines included: Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, and YM. Each had their own unique history and destinctive focus.

Patterns

McCalls was a major company publishing home sewing patterns. McCalls because it published an important woman's magazine could easily market its home sewing patterns. We have found a few McCalls patterns from the early 20th century. An example is a tunic suit which McCalls calls a Russian suit. The patterns at the time cost 10-15 cents. Notice that there were outlets in New York, Chicago, San Franciso, and Toronto. The Toronto outlet shows how closely tied the American and Canadian economies were and helps explain similarities in American and Canadian fashions. A McCalls pattern published in 1908 is another example. We note that by 1916 that they were publishing a catalog of their patterns which appared to emphasize clothing for women and children. McCalls continues to be a major factor in the pattern and home sewing business. The McCalls webite for Spring 2002 reads, "McCalls introduces the newst designs in glamerous evening and bridal dressing. Browse through the McCalls website and you'll find a great selection of brightly colored children's and infant's wear, cozy sleepwear, fleece-wear, and women's/large sizes. You'll also find fun accesories, home decorating, crafts and even Renaissance costume patterns!"

Paper Dolls

One popular fearture of McCall's for children was a popular paper doll page. This fearure first appeared in 1904. The dolls included Jeremiah Crowley's animals and paper toys, Margaret Peckham's A.Z. Baker and Barbara Hale's Jack and Jill Twins, Mel Cummins' Teeny Town, Corrine Pauli's Waterall, Percy Pierce's villages, the Haders' dolls and furniture, Norman Jacobsen's the Nipper series, and Nandor Hanti's cut-and-fold McCall Family series. The best known McCall's paper doll was "Betsy McCall". The perky Betsy McCall was drawn by Kay Morrissey first appered in 1951. An unknown artist took over the job in 1955. Ginnie Hoffman was next in 1958. Betsy was not only a fun feature for girls, but she served as a model for the fashions available from McCall's own patterns. Betsy not only modeled fashions at home, but she traveled all over the United States. Since the 1960s Betsey has no longer been a regular feature, but still periodically makes appearances. The clothing modeled provide an interesting view of chnging fashions over time.






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Created: 9:45 PM 2/9/2006
Last updated: 9:45 PM 2/9/2006