American Heritage (magazine)
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|Editor-in-chief||Edwin S. Grosvenor|
|Company||American Heritage Publishing Company|
|Based in||Rockville, Maryland|
American Heritage is a magazine dedicated to covering the history of the United States of America for a mainstream readership. Until 2007, the magazine was published by Forbes. Since that time, Edwin S. Grosvenor has been its publisher. Print publication was suspended early in 2013, but in December 2016 a Kickstarter campaign raised $31,203 from 587 backers to upgrade its website, AmericanHeritage.com, and launch a digital version of the magazine. The publisher stated it also intended to relaunch the magazine's sister publication Invention & Technology, which ceased print publication in 2011.
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. 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. Each year begins in December and continues through the following October, published every other month. For example, Volume XXV issues are December 1973, February 1974, April 1974, June 1974, August 1974, and October 1974. December 1974 begins Volume XXVI. The founding editor was Civil War historian Bruce Catton, who remained with the magazine for many years.
In 1964, David McCullough began his writing career as an editor and writer for American Heritage, which he sometimes calls "my graduate school". McCullough wrote numerous articles for the magazine. He turned his article for the June 1966 issue on the Johnstown Flood, 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 than 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, published on a bimonthly basis, announced that it had stopped publication, at least temporarily, with the April/May 2007 issue." On October 27, 2007, Edwin S. Grosvenor, purchased the magazine from Forbes for $500,000 in cash and $10 million in subscription liabilities. 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.
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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 Henry Louis Gates' recent article, "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, 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.
Numerous articles in American Heritage have later been expanded into bestselling books, including:
- Barbara W. Tuchman's three-part series on Gen. Stillwell in 1970, beginning with "A Yankee Among The War Lords", that was later published as Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1972.
- Walter Lord's 1955 article "Maiden Voyage: The first and last trip of the 'unsinkable' Titanic", that became the bestselling A Night to Remember, which was made into a movie.
- Laura Hillenbrand's 1998 article, "Four Good Legs Between Us", that became the 2001 book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend and the 2003 film, 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
- Bruce Catton (1954-1959)
- Oliver Jensen (1959-1976) 
- Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. (1976-1978)
- Geoffrey Ward (1978-1982)
- Byron Dobell (1982-1989)
- Richard Snow (1989-2007)
- Edwin S. Grosvenor (2007–2013)
Notable staff and contributors
- Stephen Ambrose
- Kevin Baker
- Alan Brinkley
- Douglas Brinkley
- Henry Steele Commager
- Joseph Ellis
- James Thomas Flexner
- John A. Garraty
- John Steele Gordon
- T. A. Heppenheimer
- John Lukacs
- Pauline Maier
- David McCullough
- James M. McPherson
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
- Jean Strouse
- Barbara Tuchman
American Heritage has been the finalist or winner of several National Magazine Awards, especially between 1985 and 1993:
- 1975, Finalist, National Magazine Award (Visual Excellence), Frank H. Johnson, editor 
- 1985, Winner, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1985, Winner, National Magazine Award (Single-Topic Issue), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1986, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1986, Finalist, National Magazine Award (Design), Byron Dobell, editor, Beth Whitaker, art director 
- 1987, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1988, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1989, Winner, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1990, Finalist, National Magazine Award (Design), Byron Dobell, editor, Theodore Kalomirakis, art director 
- 1990, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1991, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Byron Dobell, editor 
- 1993, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Richard F. Snow, editor 
- 1999, Finalist, National Magazine Award (General Excellence), Richard F. Snow, editor 
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
- American Heritage of Invention & Technology
- Grosvenor, Edwin S. "Editor's Letter," American Heritage, Winter 2008.
- Rich, Motoko (October 24, 2007). "American Heritage is Bought". The New York Times.
- "American Heritage Magazine Temporarily Suspends Publication," History News Network, May 2, 2013.
- "Saving American Heritage, the Famed Magazine of History". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- Reynolds, Mark C. (November–December 2004). "Golden Anniversary". American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing. 55 (6). Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- "David McCullough Biography". American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- Brief biography and list of American Heritage articles by David McCullough.
- McGrath, Charles (May 17, 2007). "Magazine Suspends Its Run in History". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
- Rich, Motoko (October 24, 2007). "American Heritage Is Bought". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
- Wilentz, Sean. "America Made Easy McCullough, Adams, and the decline of popular history". The New Republic. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- Snow, Richard. "Has American Heritage Gone Soft?". History News Network. Retrieved January 22, 2013.[permanent dead link]
- Pulitzer Prizes for 1972
- Catton, Bruce. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Jensen, Oliver. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Josephy, Alvin. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Ward, Geoffrey. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Dobell, Byron. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Snow, Richard. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Grosvenor, Edwin. "Bio and article list". American Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Tuchman, Barbara. "Article list". American Heritage. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- Id., American Society of Magazine Editors, www.Magazine,org[permanent dead link], entire year cited.
- Id., For the April/May, June/July, and December issues.
- Id., For "A Medical Picture of the United States", October/November issue.
- Id., For the August/September, October/November, and December issues.
- Id., For the July/August, November, December and issues.
- Id., For the May/June, September/October, and November issues.
- Id., For the February, March, and July/August issues.
- Id., For the March, May/June, and December issues.
- Id., For the February, May/June, and September issues.
- Id., For the February/March, May/June, and December issues.
- Id., For the May/June, November, and December issues.