S is for Seventeen Magazine

April 22, 2015

For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.


Seventeen first hit the magazine rack in September, 1944. Teen-ager was a new word on the scene, and Seventeen the first magazine aimed directly at teens. Seventeen was actually born out of a renovated version of a movie-magazine called Stardom. The publisher was looking for fresh ideas and contacted Helen Valentine, who had worked for both Vogue and Mademoiselle: The Magazine for Smart Young Women. She had the right vision, and he hired her.

Excerpts from the editor’s first letter to the readers:

“You’re going to have to run this show—so the sooner you start thinking about it, the better. In a world that is changing as quickly and profoundly as ours is, we hope to provide a clearing house for your ideas…..As a magazine, we shall discuss all the things you consider important—with plenty of help from you, please. Write us about anything or everything. Say you agree with SEVENTEEN or disagree violently, say we’re tops, say we’re terrible, say anything you please—but say it!” – Helen Valentine

When I was collecting research for my 1940’s YA novels, I purchased several old Seventeen magazines. These large editions were a lot of fun to breeze through. One of the magazines had a great article about different kinds of technical high schools, so I sent one of my supporting characters to a school for fashion design. (Her picture is even in the magazine!)

In this video, I show you those magazines and read some of the reader’s letters to the editor:


For more info and glimpses of past covers, check out this article:  When We Were Seventeen.

15 responses to S is for Seventeen Magazine

  1. Gorgeous dress!!! I read Seventeen back when I was a teenager. Everyone in the mag was so gorgeous and perfect….that’s what I remember. Very unreal to me then…but I still read it.
    Creating Life Beautifully – A to Z Challenge

  2. I still treasure the 50th anniversary edition of Seventeen I got in 1994, with so many reprinted vintage ads, letters to the editor, advice columns, pictures, and more. One of the local libraries has old issues of Seventeen on microfiche, though they only go back to the early Sixties or late Fifties, not all the way to the start. It’s hard to believe the magazine ran ads for wedding gowns, china patterns, silverware, crystal, and other wedding/marriage-related things as recently as the early Eighties. It was such a different world.

  3. Loving the cover of Cinderella’s Dress!

  4. Visiting from A/Z; I didn’t realize Seventeen was around for that long! I remember it fondly from when I was in my teens 😉


  5. I did not realize how old Seventeen was. What an amazing step during WW II.
    I remember Seventeen well.

  6. Good stuff, Shonna. Excellent research inspiration. Primary sources. Good idea. Thanks for sharing the video.

  7. Hi,
    Do I remember Seventeen. It was the hype magazine for teenage girls and very interesting to read.
    A very nice article.
    Visiting from A to Z Blog Challenge.
    Patricia at Everything Must Change

  8. Wow, you have some great articles here. I know who to call if I need any research done.