Date of Publication:
Jan. 1911 (1:1) – Dec. 1917 (10:2). Suspended Sept. 1911 – Jan. 1912
Place(s) of Publication:
New York, NY
Frequency of Publication:
Up to 14,000
The Masses Publishing Co., cooperatively published by all editors
13 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. Printed on inexpensive, highly-acidic paper. Approx. 20 pages containing political cartoons. Frequent sections include “Editorial,” “The Way You Look At It,” “The-Color-of-Life,” and “Facts and Interpretations.”
5 cents per issue (Jan. 1911 – Jan. 1912)
10 cents per issue (Feb. 1912 – Dec. 1917)
Thomas Seltzer: Jan. 1911 – April 1911
Horatio Winslow: May 1911 – Dec. 1911
Max Eastman: Jan. 1912 – Dec. 1917
Floyd Dell (Managing Editor): Jan. 1912 – Dec. 1917
Mary Heaton Vorse
William English Walling
Inez Haynes Irwin (Fiction Editor)
Art Young (Art Editor)
George Bellows (Art Editor)
Boardman Robinson (Art Editor)
H. J. Glintenkamp (Art Editor)
Libraries with Original Issues:
University of Michigan; Duke University; Library of Congress; Princeton University; Cornell University; Ohio State University; University of Miami, Florida; University of Illinois; Indiana University
Milwood, New York: Kraus Reprint
Washington: Library of Congress Photoduplication Services [Microform]
The Masses was founded by Piet Vlag in 1911 to campaign for the rights of the working man, but its socialist angle failed to excite a wide audience. In 1912 a group of bohemian artists from Greenwich Village, led by Art Young, selected Max Eastman to take over editorship in hopes that he could revitalize the financially burdened magazine. In his tenure the magazine offered literature of humor and wit as well as sharp social criticism on issues like racism, women’s rights, socialism, and birth control. Included in most of the issues were works by authors like Sherwood Anderson, Amy Lowell, and Carl Sandburg. The Masses also featured impressive reproductions of artwork, including, political cartoons, raw drawings of urban life from artists of the Ashcan School, and apolitical works.
With pointed attacks against the draft and the U.S.’s involvement in World War I, The Masses came under attack from anti-sedition laws, and the United States Post Office succeeded in barring the periodical from second-class mail by 1917, which drove the mailing prices too high to sustain the magazine. Later that year, the Department of Justice brought charges against Eastman, Dell, Young, and others for obstructing the draft, although they managed to escape conviction. Editors began The Liberator in an attempt to continue the spirit of The Masses.
An editorial from the first issue of The Masses unapologetically proclaimed the magazine’s aims:
“A new socialist magazine requires no apology for its appearance. The hollow pretense of fulfilling a much felt want with which every capitalist periodical enters the field is in the case of socialist publications a genuine reality. The Masses is an outgrowth of the co-operative side of Socialist activity. Its publishers believe strongly in co-operation and will teach it and preach it through the columns of this magazine … The Masses will watch closely the development of the American co-operative organization informed of its work and progress … It will be a general ILLUSTRATED magazine of art, literature, politics and science … The Masses will print cartoons and illustrations of the text by the best artists of the country, on a quality of paper that will really reproduce them … In fiction The Masses intends to maintain an equally high standard of excellence. It will publish the best that can be had, not only in the United States but in the world. It will not publish a story merely because it is original, that is, because written first in English language. A good story from a foreign tongue, we believe is preferable to a bad American story. This is partly the program of The Masses. What do you think of it?”
“Editorial.” The Masses, 1:1 (Jan. 1911): 1.
Max Eastman (Jan. 4, 1883 – Mar. 25, 1969)
Editor: Jan. 1912 – Dec. 1917
Max Eastman became an activist for women’s issues and was an early supporter of the Left Opposition. In 1912 he took over editorship of The Masses and under his tenure the publication become increasingly Leftist. When The Masses was shut down, Eastman teamed with other radical writers to publish The Liberator, a magazine which aimed to promote the same political ideas that its censored predecessor could no longer voice. He stayed with the The Liberator until it was taken over by the Communist Party in 1924.
Floyd Dell (Jun. 28, 1887 – Jul. 23, 1969)
Managing Editor: Jan. 1912 – Dec. 1917
Floyd Dell was only sixteen when he joined the Socialist Party. In 1914 he moved to New York to help Max Eastman edit The Masses, and helped publish The Liberator (1918-24). After the war Dell published a best-selling autobiographical novel, Moon-Calf (1920), and submitted to left-wing magazines like the New Masses (1924-39). Dell wrote several non-fictional works including Upton Sinclair (1927), Love in the Machine Age (1930) and an autobiography, Homecoming (1933).
Art Young (Jan. 14, 1866 – Dec. 29, 1943)
Artist Art Young had his first work of art accepted by The Judge magazine when he was only seventeen. Soon after this success Young moved to Chicago, where he worked with the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Inter-Ocean. When Piet Vlag started The Masses in 1910, he asked Young to join him. Over the next few years Young published his cartoons in the magazine, and helped recruit Max Eastman to be the magazine’s new editor. Art Young continued to produce politically charged cartoons until his death in 1943, submitting to The Saturday Evening Post, The Nation, New Masses, and The New Leader.
The Flight of the Innocents
Lords of Creation
Patriotism for Women
“Adventures in Anti-Land”
“The Nature of Woman”
“The Secret of War”
“The Eye of the Beholder”
Inez Haynes Irwin/Gilmore
“As Mars Sees Us”
“Do You Believe in Patriotism?”
“Shadows of Revolt”
Elsie Clews Parsons
“Facing Race Suicide”
“Marriage: A New Life”
“Privacy in Love Affairs”
Mary Heaton Vorse
“The Day of a Man”
“The Happy Woman”
Anderson, Elliott, and Mary Kinzie. The Little Magazine in America: A Modern Documentary History. Yonkers, NY: Pushcart, 1978.
Fishbein, Leslie. Rebels in Bohemia : the radicals of the Masses, 1911-1917. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 1982.
Fitzgerald, Richard. Art and Politics: Cartoonists of The Masses and Liberator. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1973.
—. Radical illustrators of The Masses and Liberator: A Study of the Conflict Between Art and Politics. Thesis. University of California, Riverside, 1969.
Hoffman, Frederick J., Charles Allen, and Carolyn F. Ulrich. The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1947.
Images. The Masses. Modernist Journals Project. Web. 14 Jun 2016.
The Masses. 1911 – 1917. Microfilm. New York: New York Public Library, 1937.
“The Masses.” American Radicalism Collection. 14 Aug. 2001. Michigan State University. 9 July 2009.
Morrison, Mark. “Pluralism and Counterpublic Spheres. Race, Radicalism, and The Masses.” The Public Face of Modernism: Little Magazines, Audiences and Reception, 1905-1920. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
O’Neill, William, ed. Echoes of Revolt: The Masses, 1911-1917. 1966. Chicago: Elephant Books-Ivan R. Dee, Inc., 1989.
Waite, John Allan. Masses 1911-1917: A study in American rebellion. Diss. 1951.
Zurier, Rebecca. Art for The Masses: A Radical Magazine and its Graphics, 1911-1917. Philadelphia, Temple UP. 1988.
“The Masses” compiled by Simone Muller (visiting student, Davidson College)