The Saturday Night Evening Post is most popular for the colorful and illustrative images on the front cover. It’s history goes back to Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette in 1728, and switched hands and titles in 1821. In 1839, George Rex Graham was employed as editor of the Saturday Evening Post. With the help of Charles J. Peterson, Graham turned it into one of the country’s most interesting papers. It now advertised itself as “A Family Newspaper, Neutral in Politics, Devoted to Morality, Pure Literature, Foreign and Domestic News, Agriculture, the Commercial Interests, Science, Art, and Amusement”. By 1855 the Saturday Evening Post had a circulation of 90,000.
By the late 1890s the Saturday Evening Post was in serious financial difficulties. In October, 1897, the newspaper was purchased for $1,000 by Cyrus H. Curtis, the owner of the Ladies’ Home Journal. The Saturday Evening Post was redesigned and on January, 1898, reappeared as a journal. Emphasis was placed on three topics: business, public affairs and romance. Great care was taken with illustrations and they now appeared on every page of the journal.
Norman Rockwell was one of the most notorious illustrators for the magazine. His depictions of American family and rural life soon became national icons. When President Franklin Roosevelt made his 1941 address to Congress setting out the “four essential human freedoms” Rockwell decided to paint images of those freedoms for the Saturday Evening Post. These paintings were finished and published in 1943. The paintings portrayed Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Want and Freedom from Fear. The Saturday Evening Post became one of the most popular, mass produced magazines during the early 1900’s.
The material featured within the magazine usually consisted of short stories, essays, and other literary writings. Some famous authors published in the Post were William Faulkner, Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, C.S. Forester, Agatha Christie, Jack London, and many more. It was published as weekly issues from 1897 to 1969 and from there published bimonthly after 1971.
The magazine reached its peak in 1937 under George Horace Lorimer, and then shortly thereafter, started to decline in the 1950’s. Some speculate it was because of television and radio. The magazine was then forced to substitute their well-known for illustrations with advertisements in order to stay with the competition. Curtis Publishing now owns the magazine still creates issues today.
The Four Freedoms: