The Magazine Called Good Housekeeping

May 2nd Celebrates – The Magazine Called Good Housekeeping

The magazine called, “Good Housekeeping” made its debut on May 2, 1885, founded by journalist-businessman Clark W. Bryan from Holyoke Massachusetts.

In 1911, with a circulation of 300,000, the magazine was purchased by the Hearst Publishing Company, where the magazines corporation settled in New York.

The magazine began testing and evaluating consumer goods and making recommendations to readers in 1900.

In 1909, the magazine established the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Products advertised in the magazine that bear the seal are tested by Good Housekeeping, and are backed by a two-year limited warranty. About 5,000 products have been given the seal.

In April 1912, a year after Hearst bought the magazine, Harvey W. Wiley, the first commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and became head of Good Housekeeping contributing editor whose “Question Box” feature had ran for decades.

Beginning with a “Beauty Clinic” in 1932, departments were added to the Institute, including a “Baby’s Center,” “Foods and Cookery,” and a “Needlework Room.” Some functioned as testing laboratories, while others were designed to produce editorial copy.

After the passage of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rexford Tugwell sought to promote a government grading system.

The Hearst Corporation opposed the policy in spirit, and began publishing a monthly tabloid attacking federal oversight. In 1939, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Good Housekeeping for “misleading and deceptive” guarantees including its Seal of Approval, and “exaggerated and false” claims in its advertisements.

The publisher fought the proceedings for two years, during which time competing editors from the Ladies Home Journal and McCall’s testified against Good Housekeeping. The FTC’s ultimate ruling was against the magazine, forcing it to remove some claims and phraseology from its ad pages. The words “Tested and Approved” were dropped from the Seal of Approval.

In 1962, the wording of the Seal was changed to a guarantee of “Product or Performance.”

Good Housekeeping was known as one of the “Big Six” of women’s magazines in the 1900s, as listed by Marjorie Hinds, Good Housekeeping when it was first published in Holyoke, Massachusetts by an established journalist and businessman, Clark W. Bryan.

When he created the magazine Bryan already owned a number of publications including Paper World. Good Housekeeping’s first issue was published on May 2, 1885 and cost 10 cents.

After Bryan’s death, James Eaton Tower became editor from 1899 to 1913. As a supporter of women in the workplace, he wrote “Educated Women in Magazine Work” which encouraged young college graduates to enter the field of magazine publication rather than being limited to becoming teachers only.

Although it may seem fairly obviously marketed to women, assigning an audience to Good Housekeeping is far from simple. Readers for a magazine were sometimes also its writers. For instance, Good Housekeeping editor Clark Bryan “encouraged readers to write in questions, suggestions, poetry, stories, and household advice,” which gave the audience a sense of ownership of the magazine they were reading, which what made the magazine such a HUGE success.

In lieu of today’s story I would like to share with you one my favorite business quotes from Zig Ziglar.

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”

Written and Designed by JD Mitchell
J.D Mitchell Design Studio


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