Last week I visited the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Library in Gladstone, Mo, just north of Kansas City. The staff was terrific and a bonus was an enormous collection of discarded books for sale--$1 or 50 cents/ea. I picked up Tim LaHaye's Battle for the Mind, and, oddly enough, a copy of Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty.
Ideally, I hoped to browse through some denominational magazines and periodicals from the 1950s and 1960s for my next project on Christianity and rock/anti-rock. I was pleasantly surprised. The library had loads of Baptist and SBC serials dating back to the early years of the Cold War. Some of the titles I browsed through: Baptist Quarterly Review; Home Life; Baptist Training Union Magazine; The Student (A Baptist-style Jesus People-ish magazine, which Sam Hill actually wrote in). In addition to all that there were extensive runs of Christianity Today and Christian Century, along with quite a few other gems.
The Southern Baptist Periodical Index was a real help. But blast the indexers for not cataloging what I wish they had! (Page after page after page on "Missions.") I have seldom used the Index to Religious Periodical Literature (Chicago : American Theological Library Association.) But it's a tremendous resource for work on post-war American religion. And it gives a pretty good indication of the more popular magazines and journals that circulated at the time. See below the first page of the edition for 1971, listing a range of publications. (Click to enlarge.)
So, here are a few questions for all the RiAH research nerds and archive troglodytes out there: What do you suppose were the largest circulating and/or most influential denominational periodicals of the 1950s and 1960s? Which ones are the best for getting a sense of what men, women, and children in the pews were thinking? Why?