The Chicagoan—a Jazz Age magazine fashioned after The New Yorker—entered a new era on June 4, 2013 with the launch of a website by the University of Chicago Library that makes digitized copies of nearly every issue available online for the first time. Thanks to an agreement with Quigley Publishing, the magazine can be used freely by individuals for research and educational purposes.
The road from forgotten magazine to rebirth in digital form involved several key individuals and events. Ceasing publication without warning in 1935, the Chicagoan slipped out of its city’s collective memory until the late 1980s, when Neil Harris, the Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History Emeritus at the University of Chicago, discovered a nearly complete run of the magazine while browsing the stacks of the Regenstein Library. Fascinated by the Chicagoan’s powerful cover designs, clever cartoons, insightful articles and fanciful art, Harris, now Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History Emeritus, studied the magazine in detail, researched its history, and edited a book, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, that reintroduced the Chicagoan to the world in 2008.
That book, The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age features a lengthy introduction by Harris that explores the magazine’s ambitions and historical context, before presenting carefully selected excerpts of the original magazine and one complete issue. Published by the University of Chicago Press, the book has been hailed as “top shelf” by the New York Times and as “a lush tribute,” by the Chronicle of Higher Education, which declared that “Harris does a wonderful job of situating the magazine in the urban cacophony of 1920s Chicago.”
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