Ebony Magazine Archived on Line
As I read through a couple of the issues from the 1950’s a couple of things really stuck out in addition to the articles. There are a lot of ads for liquor in the 1950’s vintage of the publication; it really borders on being obscenely excessive. For some reason, I don’t remember seeing these when reading Ebony when I was younger but looking back now, it seems so strange to see so many of these. A part of me wants to go into some sort of grand conspiracy theory, but I’ll refrain from that and just chalk all these ads up to Johnson Publishing’s inability to procure other types of advertising. I suspect this had a lot to do with how black folks were perceived as a market segment (i.e. “the only thing that they do is drink, so let’s just place liquor ads”). The balance of the ads were for mostly for hair products and to a lesser extent, skin lightening creams. In the later publications, the ads began to become a bit more balanced with ads for cars and services. Again, looking back at this from today’s perspective, it’s really fascinating, even though I lived it and am old enough to remember.
As to the articles, we’re talking history of black folks here in America. Many of editions of Ebony were published in the middle of the civil right struggles and they reflect the issues of that day. There are many stories of “firsts” and articles on things like cotillions for the children of the black bourgeois. You can literally spend a couple of hours going through the archives. This is definitely a site for your book-mark.