What’s New at the Journal

Vol 30 Issue 4Spring 2017 Issue

The current issue features research by Tracy Lucht and Chunyu Zhang on the career of Mary Jane Odell, a pillar of Midwestern television for decades. Nathan Godfried writes about radio news analyst William S. Gailmor, who was blacklisted in the late 1940s for embracing the causes of anti-fascism, labor rights, civil rights, and other causes. Justin Clark examines the cultural importance of pathologic lying as an explanation for the frequency of false reporting and “news fakes” during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Jessica Ghilani explores women’s magazine advertisements for the Women’s Army Corps and Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War.

Teaching Our Journal

With each issue of American Journalism, we feature teaching materials for a particular article and provide free online access to the article (through Taylor & Francis, the publisher of American Journalism).

The teaching materials provide topical overviews and various exercises for teaching the article in either undergraduate or graduate classes. The author of the article creates the teaching exercises and provides links to relevant primary and secondary sources.

We hope these teaching materials and the historical studies they reference will enrich your media history courses and, most importantly, your students’ learning. And we hope you will let us know how you use American Journalism in your classrooms.

Glamour-izing Military Service: Army Recruitment for Women in Vietnam-Era Advertisements

Volume 34, No. 2

By Jessica Ghilani, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

The magazine advertisements examined in this article offer insight into military recruiting strategies used during the Vietnam War. This time period is significant to military history and recruitment for a few reasons. The Vietnam War era marks the most recent historical time in which the United States relied on a military draft to fill the ranks. This draft only applied to men and to this day, the Selective Service System only requires registration from men. However, changes were made to military policy in 1967 regarding women’s military service opportunities. War created a real need for nurses to be deployed to Vietnam to serve in medic units. Because of this, military advertising of the period placed an increased focus onto the recruitment of women to serve in the Army Nurse Corps and the Women’s Army Corps.

In many ways, women were America’s first “all-volunteer force.” As the article shows, women were recruited via advertising with very different strategies when compared to their male counterparts. Even with a draft in place, the Department of Defense advertised military service to men and women with the help of the same advertising agencies that were hired by commercial clients. Ad messages aimed not only to argue in favor of military enlistment among target audiences, but also to represent military service to the broader public with positivity and control.

Magazines were an ideal venue for the transmission of these messages. During this time period, magazines struggled to compete with the massive popularity of television. But a broad array of titles and specialty publications enabled advertisers to use magazines as a method to reach more specialized audiences than that of broadcast television networks. The process of advertising for the military branches was unlike most commercial advertising. Ad firms worked in close consultation with military communications personnel. Recruiting during a time of war presented its own significant challenges, with or without a draft mechanism in place to fill the ranks.

In 1973, the draft was overturned to usher in a volunteer concept of service that continues to this day. To facilitate the volunteer era, the Department of Defense allocated more money than ever before to advertising. Since then, women’s military service roles have expanded considerably and there are now no gender requirements for service across the full range of military jobs. And contemporary military ads depict the armed forces as a robust space for diversity, inclusion, and merit-driven opportunity. Many military historians credit advertising with the volunteer concept’s enduring success. As this article argues, advertising has played a central role in military recruiting and military public relations. (Read more)

Call for Proposals
A Special Issue of American Journalism

American Journalism: A Journal of Media History announces a call for proposals for a special issue to be published in April 2019 to commemorate the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that granted the women of all states the right to vote. We seek original historical research on the role of media in and about the suffrage movement, work that illuminates lasting cultural, political, economic, ideological, and social problems. Research could center on movement, mainstream, ethnic or alternative media; strategic communication, visual culture, or closely related themes.

Much can be gleaned from examining pro- and anti-suffrage media strategies and the public responses they elicited. For the past forty years, an important body of scholarship has emerged about the movement and media. For the occasion of this centennial anniversary, our goal is to build on this foundation with work that asks new questions and presents new theoretical and methodological approaches, insights, and arguments.

The proposal should be five to ten pages, including a title or a two-sentence summary, a 250-word abstract, and a narrative that explains the scope of the project, its theme or argument, and its importance. It should demonstrate familiarity with the relevant literature and historical context, as well as historiography, provide examples of primary sources, and address how the author plans to develop and structure the work. (Read more)


Members of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage paste advertisements announcing a march to the capitol in 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Members of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage paste advertisements announcing a march to the capitol in 1914. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.