Beginning in the late nineteenth century, mainstream magazines established ideal images of white female culture, while comparable African American periodicals were cast among the shadows. Noliwe M. Rooks’s Ladies’ Pages sheds light on the most influential African American women’s magazines––Ringwood’s Afro-American Journal of Fashion, Half-Century Magazine for the Colored Homemaker, Tan Confessions, Essence, and O, the Oprah Magazine––and their little-known success in shaping the lives of black women.
Ladies’ Pages demonstrates how these rare and thought-provoking publications contributed to the development of African American culture and the ways in which they in turn reflect important historical changes in black communities. What African American women wore, bought, consumed, read, cooked, and did at home with their families were all fair game, and each of the magazines offered copious amounts of advice about what such choices could and did mean. At the same time, these periodicals helped African American women to find work and to develop a strong communications network. Rooks reveals in detail how these publications contributed to the concepts of black sexual identity, rape, migration, urbanization, fashion, domesticity, consumerism, and education. Her book is essential reading for everyone interested in the history and culture of African Americans.