Recovering from the Microfilm Binge: A Seventeen Hiatus

EKCO Housewares Company ad, Seventeen, November 1965

EKCO Housewares Company ad, Seventeen, November 1965

I finished going through the Seventeen microfilm last week. One of those situations where you find yourself praying that there won’t be anything interesting so that you can finish the microfilm and turn it in without having to re-request it. As it turned out, Reader’s Guide Retrospective was slightly incorrect, in that “Curl Up and Read” as a column continued into through November 1967 instead of August 1967. There isn’t a” Curl Up and Read” column in December 1967. 1967 spread out over two reels, largely, I think, because of an increase in ads (I wasn’t counting, but it felt like I was scrolling through a lot more).

Also, somehow January 1967 – June 1967 showed up in reverse order, with the last page of June 1967 at the beginning of the reel and the first page of January 1967 at the end, which, for someone as relatively spatial-orientationly challenged as I am, slowed me down considerably. Maybe the film was wound incorrectly? I couldn’t start from the end of June 1967 and work backwards because (WARNING: LIBRARIAN NERDINESS AHEAD) I’d developed a naming convention that let me deal with how chopped up and spread out over ads the text articles were. I.e. Seventeen_May1967_v26_FirstLove, then _FirstLove2, _FirstLove3, and so on. Impossible for me to know what number to start with if starting from back! Also, not always the case that a short title was assigned to a text block. Mayhem! Confusion! What is this block of text the conclusion to? Aaaaagh!

cover, Mary Renault, The King Must DieDoes “Curl Up and Read” continue through 1968? Well, if it does, I’m not going to know for a couple of months. Last week and the week before I spent upwards of three hours a day, or more, on the microfilm. The semester has started here, and I am feeling pulled in many directions, some of which are unbloggable (I like Historiann’s term “unbloglich”). Bloggable: The Science Talent Search project got picked up for the Berks, which has me feeling a little urgent about the data entry; I also need to write a blog post for the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth’s site, which I think will link Dinny’s birthday gifts (formal: Mary Renault’s novel, The King Must Die (1958), about ancient Crete; informal: her father’s graduate assistant, Brad Kenyon, who shares her love of ancient history and is Destined To Play A Role In Her Life) and “Curl Up and Read”: Renault’s novel (which, looking at the summary in WorldCat, suggests a source for The Hunger Games, doesn’t it?) is reviewed in the November 1965 “Curl Up and Read” column.

But, really, I’ve got to get through teaching und unbloglichkeit before I can get back to the girls’ intellectual history project. I’m having to be fairly gentle with myself about that not meaning that I just let it go indefinitely, because having the article art and having all the Seventeen riches has given me some momentum. Unbloglichkeit won’t last forever.

But, if you’re curious, some random thoughts: the “Talks To Teens” column goes away, in late 1966 or 1967 (seriously, this stuff is still a blur to me). Not too long after short feature/ad for the collection of the essays, which I now have via ILL. College and Careers was still going strong all through 1967, and I’ll be curious (though not enough to order more microfilm right away!) to see how long that goes. Really, though, I’m more curious to see how far back it goes, and given my area of interest, when I’m up for microfilm again, I’d like to do 1960-1963 and then back into the 1950s before I look at anything beyond 1967. It also looks like the items written by readers dwindle by the end of 1967. I need to look at Carley Moore’s dissertation on girl writing in Seventeen now that I’ve seen so much of it in print. The “Letters” promise to be fascinating, and the rise of the “In My Opinion,” where readers sound off in editorials about various aspects of teen life, is also going to be interesting (there was also a column called “I Believe” which seemed more serious and spiritually weighted, which I think may have been replaced by “In My Opinion.” There’s one “Opinion” piece written by a student at Princeton (then a men-only school) protesting the entrance of women students; he is roundly criticized by readers in the next month’s “Letters” column.

Another reason for procrastination (no! not procrastination! gentle postponement!): the next step is going to be dull, I fear: I need to download and back up the documents and Zotero-ize them. Then I want to print out the book review columns and enter the titles and other information (including the adjacent ads) into a Google spreadsheet(s), so that I’ll have a spreadsheet/eventual tiny database of titles mentioned, authors mentioned, information about the review authors, etc. I think it’s going to be important to look at each column as a whole (how the books fit together, especially since some of the reviewers wrote around a theme of some kind), but I also want to be able to provide an appendix of some kind showing the books reviewed or mentioned (there are some passing references in some of the reviews). The range is going to be interesting. One girl reviewed Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and novels by Bernard Malamud and William Styron; her “New Books” blurb at the end, however, was on cookbooks, meaning that Invisible Man was rubbing shoulders with The I Love Peanut Butter Cookbook. [Updated to add: there was only one cookbook in the New Books section of this review.]

Which, OK, is goofy. But it’s also important, I think, as Dame Eleanor Hull pointed out in a comment on an earlier post, to see the full range of options there. I’m finding that range to be much wider in Seventeen than I’d expected. I do wonder if the 1950s issues were more domestically oriented. By 1967 there are fewer ads for silver and china patterns and hope chests (how do you know he’s serious? if he gives you a Lane hope chest!), though they’re still there, than there were in 1964 and 1965. But there’s also an interview with J. R. R. Tolkien. The styles aren’t as univocal as I’d expected (though there is a major shift towards the “London look” in 1965, and oh look, an interview with Twiggy in 1966).

No personality quizzes or horoscopes yet, though. Not by the end of 1967.

So, first some other stuff, then some organizing, and also, hey, maybe I’ll get to start reading this stuff too!

Oh, and I love this ad, also from the November 1965 issue of Seventeen. I looked at this and thought of Jack Nicholson “Heeeere’s Johnny!” which may say something specific about my psyche…. I just think it’s an oddly creepy ad.

EKCO Housewares Company ad, Seventeen, November 1965

EKCO Housewares Company ad, Seventeen, November 1965

(Book cover image from Forum Wizard)

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