Wk. 3 (1 of 8): Racial and Societal Uplift in Scribner’s Magazine and The Crisis.

I noticed some unexpected commonalities in both of the magazines we read for this week. And that commonality is the presence of uplift.


Scriber’s magazine seemed to focus overwhelmingly on societal uplift, from the high-end stores, automobiles, soaps, private schools, even premium bacon that was advertised, it is clear that Scribner’s magazines were targeted towards an upper-class audience. “The orientation of Scribner’s to an upper (or at least moneyed) class is further exemplified by the ten advertising pages devoted to private schools” (Scholes and Wulfman ch.5 131). The fact that there were ten pages devoted to the advertisement of private schools means that Scribner's wanted through their advertisements and their articles, to both educate its audience and to appeal to an already educated audience by providing them with tools for furthering their education and expanding their knowledge.


What was striking was that The Crisis featured a similar advertisement of area schools. Particularly striking to me was the ad: The Call for College-educated women and men: GO TO COLLEGE The World To-day Is Calling for College-trained Men and Women (162).  Especially, for African Americans, having a college education was a way to uplift the entire race that contributes largely to W.E.B. Du Bois’s advocation of racial uplift among the Black community through higher education. I found it significant that W.E.B. Du Bois was the editor of this magazine, and as Scholes and Wulfman have pointed out, in Chapter 6 “How to Study a Modern Magazine”, the editor can play an important part in the shaping of a  magazine (148), and I definitely saw the influence of Du Bois’s ideas in the content of this magazine (at least this specific issue). I remember from a past presentation I did on Du Bois’s book, The Souls of Black Folk for another grad class, the focus Du Bois placed on the idea of racial uplift. From the advertisements such as the very first advertisement of the magazine which is a jewelry ad. This jewelry ad doesn’t just advertise any jewelry, it advertises “the world’s greatest jewelry”. This magazine was specifically written for African Americans and there was an overall theme, much like Du Bois’s ideas of this standard of excellence. There seemed to be a Black separatism of preserving the achievements and success of the black race much in the same way that Scribner’s seemed to preserve what they considered to be the best of the best for their readers.

Looking at these two magazines has allowed me to start putting into motion some of the techniques of investigating periodicals that Scholes and Wulfman have covered in chapters we had read so far For example, pulling from Chapter 5 specifically of Scholes and Wulfman, “The pedagogical value of Periodical studies.” “We can offer students a path to learning something about the feel of a moment in our cultural history by their own direct analysis of magazine advertising” (141). I would like to expand this thought of Scholes and Wulfman by saying that the integration of studying a magazine’s advertising and its contents, can provide valuable insight into not only the history of a specific historical period but also insight into the ideology of a magazine.