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The Holiday Makers: Magazines, Advertising, and Mass Tourism in Postwar America

The Holiday Makers: Magazines, Advertising, and Mass Tourism in Postwar America

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Between the 1930s and 1960s, the spread of new transportation networks and the democratization of paid vacations struck many observers as a sign that tourism was growing into a folkway of modern American life. Easy mobility and free time lay at the heart of this idealized vision, and vacations were seen as a ritualized expression of the movement and egalitarianism that characterized midcentury modernity. The Holiday Makers tells the story of how advertisers sold tourist travel in popular magazines during this era, transforming consumer culture in the process. Using the production of travel articles and advertisements in Curtis Publishing's Holiday magazine as a window into postwar media and consumer society, Richard K. Popp shows how the dynamics of commercial print media helped to shape ideas about place, mobility, and leisure. Publishers saw travel articles and photo-essays as a good way to deliver audiences to a booming ad sector, while editors, animated by a strong middle-brow ethos, viewed mass tourism as an uplifting activity that could bring about a classless society at home and international harmony abroad. Yet as tourism began to look like a more democratic experience, it was all the while developing into an easy way of differentiating consumers. Characteristics at the heart of travel, such as geographic curiosity and a longing for authenticity, were understood on Madison Avenue as analogues for stylized ways of living built on free spending and specialty consumption. By offering a prototype for marketing thought that connected leisure, lifestyles, and an experiential service economy, midcentury travel marketing presaged a postindustrial consumer society in which the splintering of the great middle-income masses appeared an attractive prospect to American business.