Saturday Evening Post puts massive historic archive online

The Saturday Evening Post, one of the nation’s oldest magazines, has digitized its archive of publications dating to 1821 and made it available online, the publication announced this week.

The Indianapolis-based Saturday Evening Post Society, which publishes the magazine, said it required a “10-year labor of love of meticulous in-house scanning and digitizing” to archive almost 200 years of American history contained in the publications.

The archive includes more than a half-million magazine pages and 3,500 covers, including the works of iconic cover artists Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and J.C. Leyendecker, among others.

The Post also published works of fiction, poems  and essays from a who’s who list of literary figures, including Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut, Sinclair Lewis, J.D. Sallinger, Fanny Fern, Ogden Nash and Jack London.

The archives are available to subscribers for $15 per year.

“These archives provide a living history—collectively capturing what it means to be American—as the country grew and evolved over two centuries,” Joan SerVaas, CEO and president of the not-for-profit Saturday Evening Post Society, said in written remarks. “The archives provide a wealth of rare information for the academic community, journalists, librarians, history buffs, and others who want to immerse themselves in this unparalleled collection of work.”

The Post traces its roots to the Pennsylvania Gazette, which was first published in 1728 and acquired by Benjamin Franklin in 1729. The first issue to carry the Saturday Evening Post name was published in 1821. The publication operated as a newspaper through the 1800s and evolved into a magazine with front-cover illustrations in 1899.

The magazine became one of the most widely circulated weekly publications from the 1920 to the 1960s with circulation topping 6 million.

The late Beurt SerVass, a longtime Indiana businessman who led the City-County Council for 27 years, acquired Post publisher Curtis Publishing Co. in 1970 and moved the publication from Philadelphia to Indianapolis.

The Post is still published six times a year by the Saturday Evening Post Society, which also produces youth publications Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill.

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