American heritage magazine

American Heritage
Editor-in-chief Edwin S. Grosvenor
Categories American history
Frequency quarterly
Circulation 160,000
First issue 1947
Company American Heritage Publishing Company
Country United States
Based in Rockville, Maryland
Language English
ISSN 0002-8738

American Heritage is a quarterly magazine dedicated to covering the history of the United States for a mainstream readership. Until 2007, the magazine was published by Forbes.[1] Since that time, Edwin S. Grosvenor has been its publisher.


From 1947 to 1949 the American Association for State and Local History published a house organ, American Heritage: A Journal of Community History. In September 1949, a quarterly was published with broader scope for the general public, but keeping certain features geared to educators. Though the endeavor was not hugely successful, a group of concerned people formed the American Heritage Publishing Company and introduced the hardcover, 120-page advertising-free "magazine" with Volume 6, Number 1 in December 1954.[2] Though, in essence, an entirely new magazine, the publishers kept the volume numbering because the previous incarnation had been indexed in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. The founding editor was Civil War historian Bruce Catton, who remained with the magazine for many years.

In 1964, Run for Your Lives," into a full length book. When it became an unexpected bestseller, McCullough left the magazine in 1968 to commit full-time to writing. Later American Heritage articles by McCullough on the transcontinental railroad and Harry Truman also became bestselling books.

By 1980, costs made the hardcover version prohibitive for a regular subscription. Subscribers could choose the new regular newsstand high-quality softcover or the "Collector's Edition", even plusher and thicker then the previous hardcover. Each is usually about 80 pages and has more "relevant" features and shorter articles than in the early years, but the scope and direction and purpose had not changed. Forbes bought the magazine in 1986.

On May 17, 2007, the magazine announced that it had stopped publication, at least temporarily, with the April/May 2007 issue."[5] On October 27, 2007, Edwin S. Grosvenor, purchased the magazine from Forbes for $500,000 in cash and $10 million in subscription liabilities.[6] Grosvenor, who serves as President and Editor-in-Chief, is the former editor of the fine arts magazine, Portfolio. Grosvenor was also the editor of the literary magazine, Current Books, and magazines for Marriott and Hyatt Hotels. He was also the CEO of KnowledgeMax, Inc., an online bookseller.


For a magazine that has lasted one-fourth as long as the United States, its way of covering history has changed much over the years. Each issue is still an eclectic collection of articles on the people, places, and events from the entire history of the United States. Today, there is mention of television shows and Web sites, and a greater diversity of articles such as Harvard professor Growing Up Colored," about life as a young boy in segregated West Virginia.

Some historians have criticized the magazine for what they say is a lack of seriousness. Reviewing David McCullough's book on John Adams in The New Republic,[7] Sean Wilentz stated that during the 1950s, "[Bernard] DeVoto's style of seriousness [was] eclipsed by the more journalistic and sentimentally descriptive style of American Heritage, whose influence is everywhere." Wilentz claimed that McCullough and film maker Ken Burns followed the American Heritage style: "popular history as passive nostalgic spectacle" marching "under the banner of 'narrative'". The magazine's editor at the time, Richard Snow, replied that "this magazine has never taken an overly sentimentalized or simplistic view of the past" and that American Heritage is "a magazine addressed to a lay audience and thus it has the usual fixtures—columns, picture stories, and so forth—and a variety of topics, some of greater consequence than others... but that it publishes many historians "whose work nobody has ever called simplistic, or sentimental, or undemanding.[8]

Numerous articles in American Heritage have later been expanded into bestselling books, including:

  • movie.
  • Seabiscuit, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In addition to running four to six articles, American Heritage's regular features include

  • History News - news and happenings in museums, historic sites, movies
  • Civil War Chronicles - letters, military reports and other first-person accounts of the war 150 years ago
  • Heritage Travel - guides to what to see in historic American areas
  • Now on the Web - what's happening on their Web site
  • Letters to the Editor - readers' letters
  • My Brush With History - readers' own stories about incidents in their lives that have some interesting historical significance

Some things included annually

  • A travel issue
  • Overrated/Underrated, which features fresh perspectives from a variety of contributors on standards
  • Great American Place Award, a periodic special issue that features an in-depth article on a historic American city or region

During the early 1960s, American Heritage sponsored a series of popular military board games produced by the Milton Bradley Company.


Notable staff and contributors


American Heritage has received numerous awards and honors, including:

1975, Finalist, National Magazine Award (Visual Excellence), Frank H. Johnson, editor [18]

1985, Winner, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [19]

1985, Winner, National Magazine Award (Single-Topic Issue), Byron Dobell, editor [20]

1986, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [19]

1986, Finalist, National Magazine Award (Design), Byron Dobell, editor, Beth Whitaker, art director [19]

1987, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [21]

1988, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [22]

1989, Winner, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [23]

1990, Finalist, National Magazine Award (Design), Byron Dobell, editor, Theodore Kalomirakis, art director [24]

1990, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [25]

1991, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor [26]

1993, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Richard F. Snow, editor [27]

1999, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Richard F. Snow, editor [28]

See also


External links

  • Official site
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