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Published: Saturday, 7/4/2009

Magazine returns to its roots - a good read


INDIANAPOLIS - The Saturday Evening Post, a centuries-old publication that helped make illustrator Norman Rockwell a household name and showcased some of America's greatest writers, is returning to its roots to show readers the value of a quiet read in an increasingly frenetic digital age.

A redesign launching with its July/August issue combines the Post's hallmarks - art and fiction - with folksy commentary and health articles. The revamped Post promises a more relaxing option for people who are used to doing much of their reading online, or are simply tired of special-interest magazines crammed into tight niches.

"There is a void of magazines now that do emphasize art and creative writing and fiction," Publisher Joan SerVaas said.

Maureen Mercho, chief operating officer for the Post, believes the relaunch will increase awareness of the magazine.

"The thing the Post has done well over the years is interpret America for America," she said, echoing George Horace Lorimer, who edited the magazine for more than 30 years in the early 1900s.

Archivist Dianna Denny looks through past editions of the Saturday Evening Post at the magazine's offices in Indianapolis. Archivist Dianna Denny looks through past editions of the Saturday Evening Post at the magazine's offices in Indianapolis.

America's love affair with the Post and its predecessor date to 1728, when Benjamin Franklin founded the Pennsylvania Gazette in Philadelphia. New owners changed the publication's name to the Saturday Evening Post in 1821, but it remained a newspaper for decades.

By the 1870s, the content had shifted toward entertainment, with fiction on the front page. The page count began creeping up as the Post became a true magazine with more advertising, human interest features, fiction, poetry, and cartoons. Over the decades, the Post has printed work from such authors as C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, William Saroyan, Rudyard Kipling, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Mr. Lorimer, who became editor in 1899, made the cover into an artists' showcase, featuring J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, and others. In 1916, the Post began a nearly 50-year relationship with Norman Rockwell, whose cover work became a hallmark of the magazine.

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