May 2nd, 1885 – More than “just” a Magazine for Women.

Today-In-History

Good Housekeeping is a women’s magazine owned by the Hearst Corporation, featuring articles about women’s interests, product testing by The Good Housekeeping Institute, recipes, diet, health as well as literary articles. It is well known for the “Good Housekeeping Seal,” popularly known as the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” The magazine was founded May 2nd, 1885 by Clark W. Bryan in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Good_housekeeping_1908_08_aThe magazine achieved a circulation of 300,000 by 1911, at which time it was bought by the Hearst Corporation. It topped one million in the mid-1920s, and continued to rise, even during the Great Depression and its aftermath. In 1938, a year in which the magazine advertising dropped 22 percent, Good Housekeeping showed an operating profit of $2,583,202, more than three times the profit of Hearst’s other eight magazines combined, and probably the most profitable monthly of its time. Circulation topped 2,500,000 in 1943, 3,500,000 in the mid-1950s, 5,000,000 in 1962, and 5,500,000 per month in 1966. 1959 profits were more than $11 million.

In 1900, the “Experiment Station”, the predecessor to the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI), was founded. In 1902, the magazine was calling this “An Inflexible Contract Between the Publisher and Each Subscriber.” The formal opening of the headquarters of GHRI – the Model Kitchen, Testing Station for Household Devices, and Domestic Science Laboratory – occurred in January 1910.

In 1909, the magazine established the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Products advertised in the magazine that bear the seal are tested by GHRI 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 (1907–1912), became head of GHRI and a contributing editor whose “Question Box” feature 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.

The magazine advocated pure food as early as 1905, helping to lead to the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. It prohibited the advertising of cigarettes in the magazine in 1952, 12 years before the Surgeon General‘s warning labels were required on cigarette packs. During the 1930s, it endorsed the Ludlow Amendment, which sought to require that any declaration of war, except in the event of an invasion, be ratified by a direct vote of the citizenry.


 

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