Foxed Paper and the Slight Smell of Mold: Reading, Browsing Actual Print Periodicals

Randall Stephens

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?


Paul M. said…
Among fundamentalists the hands down favorite would've been John R. Rice's Sword of the Lord (I believe it was published under the auspices of the World Baptist Fellowship).

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