Thursday, April 19, 2012


My mother sent me a stack of magazines the other day. A friend of hers in Florida had given them to her to pass on to her archivist daughter. I am thoroughly fascinated and thought some of you might be  as well. The publication is called "Reminisce." Its web site describes it this way:


Reminisce, North America’s top-selling nostalgia magazine, “brings back the good times” of the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ‘60s and early ’70s. A variety of true, heart-felt stories are mainly written by the readers, not professional writers, which makes our magazine-and website-unique.
Each issue is packed with fascinating vintage black and white photographs and early color slides. Most photos are sent in by readers who’ve searched through family albums or attics to share the best from their past. Fun-to-read short and feature-length memories bring smiles, laughter and even poignant tears to readers of all ages. Memories span every subject…from the corner store and soda fountain, outhouses and old-time remedies, Model Ts to fifties Fords with fins, early radio and TV, surviving the Depression, World War II, fashion fads and prices from the past. The real thrill of reminiscing comes when someone reads a memory or sees a long-forgotten item and realizes: “Hey! I remember that!

My own with my Dad in the 1970s.
Great sideburns Dad!
First, I wonder, how many other "nostalgia" magazines are there? The magazine includes photos and stories from readers who want to share their past. I'm going to preface my praise with the caveat that this magazine doesn't seem to portray a well-rounded view of the past. For example, it's tagline reads, "The magazine that Brings Back the Good Times." And an article I read in it about an orphanage stood out as particularly stripped of the "bad." Still, here's why the publication is so fascinating:

  • From an archivist's perspective, the publication is making its own "artificial collections" that group and tell stories of American society. Brilliant!
  • The magazine is basically crowdsourcing history. What is important to you? What do you want to share? What should we reminisce about? What should we remember?
  • The idea behind this magazine is taking a large community (American citizens) and breaking them into smaller communities -- pointing out commonalities among people and giving them back connections that we sometimes see as broken in today's society. Again. Brilliant!
I am rolling this all through my mind and trying to figure out what to take away from it. Can cultural heritage professionals encourage crowdsourcing through publication like this and apply their expertise as curators, archivists, and librarians to help people make sense of their own stories?

Over and over again I hear people who tell me that their kids and grandkids don't appreciate their history. But truly, this magazine shows that there is something for everyone to appreciate and it could serve as a model for us.  When we encourage people to think of themselves as part of history we make ourselves stronger. When we all reminisce or stop for a moment to think about how the events in our lives play a role in society, we are appreciating the work of cultural heritage. 

Reminisce includes such topics as tales of "early aviation." The smile of a female aviator shines from the cover of the April/May 2010 magazine, which caught my pilot husband's eye from the top of the pile on the coffee table. (I'd like to think that it's because of the plane and not the woman.) It also includes pieces such as "Memories of Real Romances" from 2011 that might appeal to a totally different group. "Reminisce" let's us peek at others' histories and neatly connects them to our own. I love it! 

No comments:

Post a Comment