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COMPENDIUM OF TIME MAGAZINE COVER SUBJECTS

Peter M. Lutterbeck @ June 30, 2008 # 3 Comments

Having appeared uninterrupted as a weekly news publication since March 3,1923, TIME magazine enjoys today a worldwide reputation as a major American news organization that can make and “break” the news.

The people, events and circumstances appearing reflect current interests, and often, future concerns or trends. Prominent artists and photographers prepare the cover-pictures highlighting the selected main theme of the week.

In the beginning individuals dominated the covers. Increasingly over the years, events, things, trends and social issues began to appear. The evolution of the media and the public’s thirst for information is clearly depicted by TIME’s careful choice of cover issues, which culminates in its MAN/PERSON(s) OF THE YEAR selection.

Going through the covers is like visiting a gallery with pictures of the people and main events marking a specific period – a historical record, which at the same time provides much of the background vital to understanding our times. Hence the interest shown not only by historians, but also by the many who have wished to procure a copy of one or more particular issue(s).

Given the difficulties involved in going through more than 4000 copies, the COMPENDIUM was conceived to help finding covers related to a person, a specific topic, or simply, what issue appeared on a specific date, e.g. one’s birth date.

The Compendium’s principle component is The Chronicle listing the dates and names of the persons featured (and frequency selected), and the topics of all issues, together with a brief explanation of their relevance in days bygone, current interest or focus on future trends. The text is taken from TIME magazine and standard references such as The Columbia Encyclopedia, Webster’s New Biographical Dictionary, The Macmillan Encyclopedia, The Movie Guide, Actors & Actresses as well as The International Herald Tribune and The Economist.

The second part is an Alphabetical Index providing the dates of all issues for a given person or subject and multiple entries for a given issue, e.g. Crisis in Congress listed under Crisis and Congress, Sex with 65 and Dwight D. Eisenhower with 19 entries providing an extensive cross-reference. For individuals, year of birth and death are shown, in the expanded version month, day and birthplace are indicated.

The 3rd and 4th sections respectively are a Subject Heading (each country, prominent statesmen, sports, popular music, women, etc.) and a Listing of issues for Each Day of the Year are included to further facilitate research.

Currently the entire Compendium consists of more than 3000 pages, 3000 individuals and concludes currently with the January 2, 2006 issue, but the compilation continues to the present day and is constantly being updated.

Detailed Project Description of the TIME Magazine Cover Compendium

The several sections of the Compendium require a more detailed description of the Cover people, subjects, events and trends appearing from March 3, 1923 to January 2, 2006 or 4280 issues featuring 2790 people. (Only the U.S. domestic issues are included.)

The segments include the following:

The Chronicle preceded by an Alphabetical Index (non-extended) with 169 pages. Non-extended because it only states the years born and if deceased died (not month or day nor birthplace), date(s) of each issue appear, indicating those who have appeared four (4) or more times and for those issues without people only briefly refer to primary key words pertinent to the cover subject, event or trend. The Chronicle itself (566 pages) lists chronologically each issue and show the years born and died (for those deceased) for individuals when initially featured and the number of appearances when subsequently shown either alone or with others. A brief narrative follows taken from either TIME itself or elsewhere highlighting past, present and or combined occasionally with future circumstances.

An Extended Alphabetical Index (240 pages) records the exact dates (month/day/year) of birth, death and birthplace as well as age of those died within the period covered as well as for historical figures featured. Dates in bold indicate Person(s) or Non-persons (e.g. The Computer, Planet) of the Year. A distinction is made for persons being U.S. born along with those foreign born but achieving their notoriety primarily in the U.S and are included together in the right column in terms of their age. A special sub-group of people (indicated by “+”) were featured only to highlight a subject, event or trend and whose personal details are often limited. Middle names are provided as they frequently facilitated locating them on the Internet. Also, each individual and an occasional subject appearing multiple times and those people appearing four (4) times or more are specifically noted. Both indexes have extensive cross referencing, e.g. “Crisis in Congress” would be listed under “Crisis…” and “Congress, Crisis in” or as with “Chinese Spy Scandal” listed as such but also under “Spy Scandal, Chinese” and “Scandal, Chinese Spy.” Of course ages are provided if deceased by end of 2006 but deaths are regularly updated and recorded as e.g. 2007.

A Subject Headings Index (1601 pages) comprising 294 topics (excluding People appearing on 4 occasions or more) covering 53 countries and regional areas. People from non-U.S. countries and achieving notoriety outside the U.S. will be listed under their respective countries. Examples of Headings include: AIDS, baseball, children, death, natural disasters, environment, etc.

TIME Magazine Cover People – Appearing at Least on 4 issues (226 pages) including a total of 104 People: 53 Americans and 51 non-Americans with Richard M. Nixon leading the group featured alone, with others or being the primary subject due to the Watergate Scandal for a grand total of 66 times. These issues make up 1223 of the 4280 or nearly 29% of all the TIME issues.

A listing for issues on Each Day of the Year (366 pages) providing a chance for everyone being one in seven for an issue appearing on his/her date of birth – it was on mine – May 18, 1936 with Republican Kansas Gov. Alfred M. Landon being featured. This section may serve as a guide for assessing similar coverage for specific periods of the year, e.g. holidays, anniversaries, pre-election, election, etc.

Year of Birth & Birthplace (72 pages) – All 2790 People: Men = 86% & Women = 14%, U.S. Born = 61% & non-U.S. Born = 35%, 4% Unknown.

U.S. Born in U.S. States – Year Died (34 pages): Total = 1163: Men = 92 & Women = 8%. This also includes the Average Age per year.

Year of Death & Birthplace (54 pages) – 1918 People or 69% of all featured: Men = 1756 or 92% & Women = 162 or 8%. (Also includes the number and date of last issue appeared and shows whether U.S. born or non-U.S. born.)

Listing of U.S. Born in Individual U.S. States (80 pages): Includes number for Men & Women, Living & Died, Age if deceased, Afro-Americans, Military, Person(s) of the Year, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Senators, Governors, Representatives and their Party affiliations and if out-of-state positions. For New York, California & Illinois indications are made if born in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago and total numbers tabulated accordingly.

TRIVIA Segment (53 pages) including 16 topics with Cover Listing of issue dates and number of Caricatures, People wearing Glasses or Hats, with Beards or Mustaches, smoking Cigarettes, Cigars or Pipes, Women wearing Pearl Necklaces, covers displaying the U.S. Flag or portions thereof, Telephones, Pens & Pencils, TV or Computer Screens.

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