(University of Chicago Magazine archives)

Transport yourself

Revisiting days gone by in the pages of the Magazine.

By Laura Demanski, AM’94


This spring I’ve been going to the 1970s in my mind. Edward Levi, LAB’28, PhB’32, JD’35, is president of the University. The College has refreshed its curriculum. Joseph O’Gara’s bookstore has taken over the space where Woodworth’s Books used to do business (today it’s a wine shop). And the Watergate hearings are fresh in everyone’s minds.

Law professor Philip Kurland is about to teach a fall course, Constitutional Aspects of Watergate. And “at Jimmy’s, the venerable 55th Street spa,” the September/October 1973 University of Chicago Magazine reported, “the hearings were sometimes offered on radio while the audio was turned off for the telecast of the day’s baseball game, giving an eerie effect.”

Newly available online, the Magazine’s back issues from 1908 to August 1995 are rife with gemlike details like these. On the other end of the spectrum are big-thinking essays by UChicagoans like Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and Katharine Graham, AB’38. Not to mention news of the classes, campus life, and a nine-decade retrospective of print advertising. (An ad in the first archived issue promoted a Chicago magic store: “Remember, conjuring is the fashionable pastime of the highest class of society.”)

I’ve always been drawn to the bound volumes of back issues in our offices like a graduate student to a venerable 55th Street spa. Now, you can also turn back time by turning back the pages. Thanks are owed to the Library’s Special Collections Research Center for valiantly digitizing the Magazine archives, along with Cap and Gown and the University Record. All are fully searchable. (As always, you can find and search later volumes at mag.uchicago.edu.)

Browsing the Watergate years, I’ve been struck by content both curious and sublime. The Summer/74 Class News treated readers to side-by-side photos of alumnus Harry Sholl, EX’41, and his look-alike Henry Kissinger. Earlier that year, Norman Maclean, PhD’40, articulated the art of teaching as his Presbyterian minister father might have conceived it — as a craft of “conveying the delight that comes from an act of the spirit … without ever giving anyone the notion that the delight comes easy.”

That hard truth was useful to bear in mind as I absorbed the results of a reader postcard survey the Magazine conducted in 1973. A thousand postcards came back. “There were such comments,” the editors wrote, “as ‘keeps me informed,’ ‘increases my affinity with the University,’ and ‘makes me think’ — but also ‘sloppy editing,’ ‘looks like Ford Motor Company annual report,’ and ‘fed up with your revolutionary baloney.’”

We hope your feelings about the Magazine are more in keeping with the former remarks than the latter.

If they are, please help us continue to deliver both the sweeping ideas and the sparkling details of UChicago life to your mailbox long into the future.

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Note: This story originally appeared in the University of Chicago Magazine’s Spring/17 issue.