American Heritage

American Heritage is a magazine predominantly focused on the history of the United States, catering to a mainstream readership. Founded in 1947, its initial purpose was to serve as a house organ for the American Association for State and Local History under the title American Heritage: A Journal of Community History. However, it broadened its scope in September 1949, targeting a wider audience while still maintaining features designed for educators and historical societies.Image:american-heritage-sample-cover

In 1954, the magazine was sold to a group of writers and editors from Time, Inc. This team, which included James Parton, Oliver Jensen, Joseph J. Thorndike, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bruce Catton, transformed the publication into a hardcover, 120-page, advertisement-free “magazine”. It was from December 1954 onwards that the magazine, under the stewardship of the newly formed American Heritage Publishing Company, started a new volume numbering system. Each volume began in December and continued through the following October, with issues published every other month.

Bruce Catton remained with the magazine for 25 years until his death in 1979, contributing over 100 essays. He emphasized the necessity of viewing history without undue nostalgia, thus ensuring accurate understanding. Notable author David McCullough began his writing career as an editor and writer for American Heritage in 1964, often referring to the magazine as “my graduate school”. His articles on topics such as the Johnstown Flood and the transcontinental railroad were later expanded into bestselling books.

The American Heritage publishing company was purchased by McGraw-Hill in 1969, then acquired by Samuel P. Reed in 1978. The transition to a high-quality softcover format occurred in 1980 due to rising costs. The magazine was subsequently bought by Forbes in 1986.

The magazine ceased publication temporarily with the April/May 2007 issue. Edwin S. Grosvenor, former editor of the fine arts magazine Portfolio and other publications, bought the magazine from Forbes later that year. He has since served as the president and editor-in-chief.

Print publication was suspended in 2013, but American Heritage was resurrected in digital format in 2017, complete with a new website and subscriber management system. As of the Winter 2020 issue, the magazine continued to feature essays from renowned historians on diverse topics that illuminate what makes America great.{{Categories}}

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