LIFE is Good
September 23, 2009 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Already hosting the LIFE Photo Archive (previously), Google today announces that it has "partnered with Life Inc. to digitize LIFE Magazine's entire run as a weekly: over 1,860 issues, covering the years from 1936 to 1972."
posted by Knappster (32 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pretty soon, they will start digitizing people.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 10:53 AM on September 23, 2009


That's great. (But I've read all them already in the Dentist's waiting room!)
posted by JtJ at 10:54 AM on September 23, 2009


Just wait until they digitize Time itself.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:55 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of my dad's favorite jokes, which I'm sure is a wide spread one, though I've never heard it from anyone but him, goes something like this:

Q: What's Life?

A: A magazine.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: A dollar.

Q: I haven't got a dollar.

A: That's Life!

Sorry, everyone.
posted by Caduceus at 11:00 AM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Everything must be digitized. We can't move forward as a species until it does. It's our only job now, our legacy, our contribution to posterity, and we'd better get too it. I spent the morning scanning in every dental x-ray I have ever had, and later today I will be digitizing a model of mothra I made out of clay when I was in sixth grade. The future will thank me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:02 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just bought this issue at a local antique store and had it framed. Phenomenal photography, writing, and a bizarrely lucid perspective on possible future events. I wish we still had journalism like this in the U.S. - thank God for the bbc.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:03 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. This is an amazing resource for anyone, but for historians particularly. Part of me wants to spend a few years just reading these!
posted by strixus at 11:05 AM on September 23, 2009


A related, earlier post about Google digitalizing Popular Science and Popular Mechanics was somewhat badly framed, and didn't get the attention it deserved, I think.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:22 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The future will thank me.

The future is singularity. Everything must be digital for the omnipotent computer-self to understand. My future singulitized self thanks you, and notes that your Mothra model is not completely accurate, due to the overly fuzzy pipe cleaners used for the antenna. This is a common mistake for proto-computer minds, and my future self pats the 6th grade you on the head and says: "There there. There there. Good try."
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it wrong that I'm far more fascinated by the ads than the award winning photojournalism?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:32 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Zip Zop. See there? My face is ripped to shreds." Man that is awesome. What was it like to shave with barbed wire looped around a refrigerator turned on its end?
posted by cashman at 11:44 AM on September 23, 2009


Dateline: 16 October 1964. The Two-Party System: How to Help It Survive.
"Will a Democratic landslide in November knock out the Republican Party as an effective opposition? Some political scholars believe the GOP is already doomed. 'Goldwater,' says Richard Hofstadter, 'may have given the Republican Party the coup de grâce as a genuine major party competitor. Hans Morgenthau thinks that if Goldwater loses, the GOP 'will no longer be a viable alternative to the party in power.'"
Ha.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2009


This is awesome. Thanks.
posted by starman at 11:49 AM on September 23, 2009


AWESOME. Finally I don't have to pay $20+ on eBay for a copy of this issue with the cover story about Freemasonry.
posted by mrbill at 12:06 PM on September 23, 2009


We just got a bunch of old Life magazines from the 1960s that had been sitting in my partner's nan's house for decades. Fascinating reading and gorgeous pictures - and the advertising is priceless (Bayer will cure your housewife headache!) Good post - thanks!
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:09 PM on September 23, 2009


Finally I don't have to pay $20+ on eBay for a copy of this issue with the cover story about Freemasonry.

Also in that issue: What's It's Like to be Tall: Advantages and Problems, which is just great in every way.
posted by smackfu at 12:23 PM on September 23, 2009


mrbill - that same article includes an op/ed on why independents should vote republican, an article on a breed of cat with naturally curly fur, followed by the wonders of atomic fusion. And people are getting taller, which can be good and bad. The world was so chaotic back then, with so much to think about. How could people live without filtered RSS feeds and automatic lunches?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:24 PM on September 23, 2009


This is so great.
posted by JBennett at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2009


Fantastic. And psst, for those of you who use Greasemonkey, there's a script that allows you to download pages and photos.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:34 PM on September 23, 2009


Is it wrong that I'm far more fascinated by the ads than the award winning photojournalism?

Like this ad about the "long pull energy" provided by the "meat power" of nourishing bacon. And Clairol condition "actually makes your hair feel stronger!" And maybe the crotch-centric focus of this Jockey ad is a little too on-the-money.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:41 PM on September 23, 2009


Neat. It's fascinating to come across something like "A Liberal Meets Mr. Conservative", Gore Vidal's notorious interview with Barry Goldwater from the June 9, 1961 issue, and then be able to immediately dial up the Letters to the Editors page a couple issues later and read the various readers' reactions to the piece. (e.g. "Thank you, Gore Vidal, for showing what I have known for some time—how the radicals truly fear a great American: Barry Goldwater.")
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was a bit surprised they use a vertical half-page ad format. Those seem to have fallen out of favor in most magazines, which only have full-page ads in the main body. I guess it's less obvious when you can see the facing page.
posted by smackfu at 12:52 PM on September 23, 2009


I logged in just to favorite this post and I try to never do that at work... That's how best of I think this post is!
posted by goml at 12:52 PM on September 23, 2009


Caduceus,

I thought your dad was going to say "Well, then, you'll never get a Life!"
posted by lukemeister at 12:58 PM on September 23, 2009


Here's a mildly interesting related anecdote: on the day Obama was born, August 4, 1961, who was on the cover of Life Magazine released that very same day? JFK. Kinda interesting to think that as Obama's family roamed the hospital hallways that day, they might have seen Obama's birthday on the cover of that issue along with JFK's face. It's like there were some signs of the future lurking here and there even in 1961, in plain sight. Of course, no one back then could have had even the remotest idea of how unimaginably strange their future would be. Was he carried as an infant past a row of magazines with that one displayed prominently? Did his tiny almost-unformed neural network see that and imprint...something? We'll never know, but it's fun to speculate.
posted by jamstigator at 1:13 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The genealogy of a supergroup by Jim Flora. Awesome.
posted by Knappster at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2009


Here's a mildly interesting related anecdote: on the day Obama was born, August 4, 1961, who was on the cover of Life Magazine released that very same day? JFK.

More proof that LIFE magazine and the liberal media faked Obama's birth certificate with the help of Teddy Kennedy. Of course now Obama killed Kennedy and shut down LIFE magazine so we'll never have proof.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2009


Great news—thanks for the post!

> One of my dad's favorite jokes

Your dad must be fairly young; I've never heard that (ancient) joke with anything more than a quarter, and it's usually ten to twenty cents. (This thread is already #4 on a Google search!)
posted by languagehat at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2009


None of the links people are posting work for me.
posted by kenko at 6:50 PM on September 23, 2009


Well that just about kills the value of my back stock inventory of around 4,000 issues of LIFE. I have a stack of the Sept. 1939 issues on my kitchen table right now.

LIFE succeded at a time when people got their images of world events from printed material, and just when the production cost of printing high quality, large format pictures became reasonable.

The 1950's issues of LIFE run about 200 pages per issue. Two hundred pages per week times 52 weeks per year is a thousand page history for each year - with all the key news events, the sports the entertainment and everything else. As a history buff I've loved dealing in these back issues. In reality I'm glad to know that this repository is available for everyone now.

I hope we have the good FORTUNE to see a POST about the other early magazines.
posted by X4ster at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"A surprising, shocking treatment helps far-gone mental cripples. Screams, Slaps and Love" ...They have taken on three boys and a girl with a special form of schizophrenia called autism... (May 7 1965 pg 91) Not for the faint of heart.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:27 PM on September 24, 2009


That's nuthin'. They've got the Weekly World News!
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:10 PM on September 26, 2009


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