Glossy Covers: The Women's Weekly retrospective

Glossy Talk: The Women's Weekly legacy
"In Every Home: The Australian Women's Weekly (1933-1982)"
From today, the National Library of Australia will be showcasing a retrospective exhibition of The Australian Women's Weekly to mark the digitisation of the first 50 years of the publication from 10 June 1933 to 15 December 1982, when the publication went monthly.

The collection, representing a total of 2,569 issues and 232,000 pages, provides us with a unique insight into the interests of women, but also Australian society and culture at large with its ambition to be welcomed "in every Australian home from the outback to the industrial suburbs".

In its embryonic form, The Weekly – first edited by a man, George Warnecke – featured articles about domestic issues, food, fashion and grooming, but also opinion pieces on the women's movement, national affairs, politics and world events, including World War II.

Prime Minister Gordon Menzies announced the beginning of Australia's involvement in the War in September 1939, and we see after this time a steady increase in less whimsical covers. The December 30, 1939, issue features a woman praying in church; a lone digger appears on a December 1940 cover; 'Women in the War Industries', reads the cover line from the Saturday 31 May, 1941, edition.

Launched by Sir Frank Packer, the first cover was black and white and featured four models alongside the headline, "What Smart Sydney Women Are Wearing." The front page also features a story titled, "Equal Social Rights For Sexes: Mrs. Littlejohn Outlines Big Issues To Be Fought For", which covered the Women Voter's Federation conference from the perspective of one Mrs. Linda P. Littlejohn, who outlines the main issues, including "(1) That all positions and all posts in the Commonwealth and States' Civil Services should be open to women as to men", for Weekly readers.

Elizabeth Taylor, cats, babies, koalas, kangaroos, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Prince Phillip, Charles and Diana... the changing faces of The Weekly provide for a fascinating study in Australian history. We can only hope the ABC will be prompted to create a sequel to Paper Giants based on Ita Buttrose's experience of editing The Weekly in the 1980s.

"In Every Home: The Australian Women's Weekly (1933-1982)" opens at the National Library of Australia in Canberra today – a good reason to visit our nation's capital. You can view the full collection at Trove Australia.

Girl With a Satchel


roseh11 said...

Wow, I so wish I was in Canberra right now! I love love love vintage magazines. Thanks for sharing with those of us who can't see the exhibition for real! And yes, Paper Giants sequel absolutely.