Question of the Week
What influential Philadelphia publishing house once produced The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal?
Answer: The Curtis Publishing Company
The Curtis Publishing Company was an influential publishing house established in Philadelphia in 1891 which once produced The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal.
Born in 1850, Cyrus H. K. Curtis was a pioneer of modern magazine publishing in the United States. Curtis started his career in magazine publishing at the age of 15, when he became founder of Young America. Curtis purchased the Saturday Evening Post in 1897 and founded the Curtis Publishing Company four years later. The company’s headquarters were built at 6th and Walnut Streets and Curtis served as president from 1899 to 1922. Under the watchful eyes of editors such as Edward Bok and George Horace Lorimer, the Curtis Publishing Company became one of the most influential publishing companies in the United States during the early 20th century.
Curtis expanded his publishing vision to include newspapers with the purchase of the Philadelphia Public Ledger in 1913. Several years later, he bought the Philadelphia Press and Philadelphia North America and combined all three papers as the Public Ledger. The newspaper’s facilities were housed in a new building constructed next to the Curtis building in 1921. However, Curtis did not succeed in newspaper publishing and had to sell his newspapers after losing money.
Cyrus Curtis died on June 7, 1933, at his home in Wyncote, Pa. His daughter, Mary Louise Bok Zimbalist, founded the Curtis Center and Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, all named in honor of Cyrus Curtis.
HSP holds a sizeable collection of records from the Curtis Publishing Company (#3115) that provides information on the publishing industry and the Philadelphia business community though materials such as annual records, financial records, and photographs. The society also holds papers from Cyrus Curtis (#1251) and George Horace Lorimar (#1679).
Image: Cover of The Saturday Evening Post (31 July 1920), call number Je* .3, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.