American Heritage Magazine Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary at the Forbes Galleries In New York

Bucking trends in the publishing industry, American Heritage Magazine has had strong gains recently and is “in the black” two years after suspending publication
February 18, 2010

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Will Marlow
Director of Communications
American Heritage Publishing

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American Heritage, the nation’s oldest and best-known history magazine celebrates its 60th anniversary Tuesday February 19, 2010 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Forbes Galleries in New York City.

According to Edwin S. Grosvenor, President and Editor-in-Chief, there is much to celebrate; advertising revenue for American Heritage in 2009 was more than double the previous year, and newsstand sales tripled.

In addition, the current 60th anniversary issue has received wide acclaim, with articles on decisive moments in American history written by 36 leading historians, 14 of them Pulitzer Prize winners. Authors include Douglas Brinkley, James McPherson, Joseph Ellis, Michael Korda, Jon Meacham, Jay Winik, Harold Holzer, Jean Baker, Stephen Sears, and David Hackett Fischer.

“The historic 60th edition of the magazine looks terrific,” wrote Brent Glass, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “You have produced an instant classic.”

Things weren’t always so sanguine for American Heritage. In May, 2007, the magazine’s suspension was announced in The New York Times. Edwin S. Grosvenor and several investors stepped in to save the beloved magazine.

“It wasn’t the best time to buy a publishing company,” Edwin S. Grosvenor, President and Editor-in-Chief of American Heritage Publishing admitted recently. “But I am pleased to report we reached a breakeven point in 2009 by cutting expenses and taking the magazine back to publishing the best new historical writing. That seems to be what the market wants.”

As with most magazines this past year, circulation has dropped, but revenue per subscription has improved significantly, Mr. Grosvenor reports, helping the magazine to get back on its feet financially.

Although there hasn’t been much to celebrate in the publishing industry this past year, this event is being highly anticipated by invited guests including industry executives, authors and historians.

“American Heritage is not only important, it’s essential,” said Bruce Cole, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Americans have to know where they have come from to have a compass to the future. These days, when so many historians are burrowing in their little niches and have so many subspecialties and are not writing for the general public, American Heritage is. And it’s continuing this great tradition of writing very smart, very original history for the lay audience and I don’t think there is a greater service that can be performed by any magazine devoted to America’s past. This is a great tradition with a really promising future.”

“American Heritage’s 60th Anniversary issue is a cause for celebrations by historians and lovers of history,” says Thomas Fleming, past president of the Society of American Historians. “It is proof that this great magazine has been rescued from oblivion. Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Edwin Grosvenor and his talented staff deserve our unstinting thanks for this achievement.”

Background:

The first issue of American Heritage was published in December 1949. Over the years, it has won many honors, including the National Magazine Award. Today it is the oldest and best-known history magazine in the world, carrying forward the mission the founders spelled out nearly 60 years ago: “We believe in good storytelling; that interesting writers can interpret history and restore it to the place it once occupied as the noblest branch of literature.”

After the magazine was forced to suspend publication in 2007, the assets of American Heritage, Inc. were purchased by a new company, American Heritage Publishing, led by Chairman Robert Breeden and President and CEO Edwin S. Grosvenor. Mr. Breeden was the Executive Vice President of the National Geographic Society, where he launched National Geographic Traveler and ran the book and educational media divisions. Mr. Breeden was also Chairman and President of the White House Historical Society and Capitol Historical Society.

Under the leadership of President Edwin S. Grosvenor, the company dramatically cut expenses and shifted the magazine’s editorial focus back to traditional history, away from popular culture and nostalgia. “We seek authors who are the most respected historians, and have written popular books on American history,” says Mr. Grosvenor. “It’s important that they can tell a good story and be interesting.”

American Heritage Publishing also publishes books and a second magazine, Invention & Technology, the only popular magazine dedicated to the history of invention and innovation.

In addition the company runs a large website, www.americanheritage.com, with some 13,000 articles on history written by the leading historians of the last half century. It is developing an innovative new website, www.heritagesites.com, with information on over 3,000 historic sites and museums across the country.

TO EDITORS: For more information, including a list of quotes from industry leaders, a list of articles in the 60th anniversary issue or to arrange for interviews contact Nancy Gibson at 301-339-4919 or ngibson [@] americanheritage.com. Please visit www.americanheritage.com.