As Ladies’ Home Journal shifts from a monthly to a quarterly publication, Harold Pollack looks back on the serious journalism that occasionally graced its pages over the past 130 years, and highlights the role women’s magazines have played in bringing important issues to light:
Recent journalism in women’s magazines has explored surrogacy, use of anti-depressants during pregnancy, sexual harassment in higher education, Bill Clinton’s newfound role as a political spouse, even insurers’ unethical rescission of health coverage. My brilliant dissertation advisor Richard Zeckhauser told me to read Ann Landers and Dear Abby with special care. I found much good material there. When the moment is right, women’s magazines could contribute something more, too. One such moment occurred on May 1, 1950, when Ladies Home Journal printed a taboo-breaking article by Pearl Buck called “The child who never grew.” Buck recounted her gradual discovery of her daughter Caroline’s intellectual disability, and describes her painful decision to institutionalize Caroline at the age of nine within the Training School at Vineland, New Jersey.