University Library News
Georgia State University

New Database: Ebony Magazine Archive

January 1946, front cover

We’re pleased to announce that the library now provides access to the Ebony Magazine Archive, which includes full-text of Ebony Magazine from its first publication in 1945 through 2014.

Ebony Magazine was a monthly magazine, intended for middle-class Black readers, and was the first Black-oriented magazine in the US to achieve national circulation. Founded in 1945 by John H. Johnson of Chicago, Ebony was intended to be a news and photo magazine similar to Life Magazine (which we also have available both in print and online in the Life Magazine Archive), but more specifically focused on African American readers. Johnson was also the founder of Negro Digest (later known as Black World), a pocket-sized magazine first published in 1942. Though Ebony initially initially spotlighted Black entertainers and athletes, it later came to emphasize Black achievements in many other fields. Additionally, Ebony also contributed to a Black history revival following World War II, courtesy of its senior editor Lerone Bennett, Jr., who helped educate readers about Black history.

front cover, October 1 2001 issue, featuring Laila Alia and Muhammad Ali
October 2001, front cover

Its circulation was at 1.8 million at the turn of the 21st century; at that time, Jet Magazine, another Johnson publication which first appeared in 1951, had a circulation of around 900,000. Johnson Publishing Company would also diversify into book publishing, radio broadcasting, insurance, and cosmetics manufacturing, and in 1996, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (adapted from Encyclopedia Brittanica; see also E. James West, Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America [2020, available as an ebook here]).

The Ebony Magazine Archive is a searchable full-text database, which offers viewable and downloadable PDFs of individual stories, and the ability to see all of the stories in an issue, allowing you to contextualize a particular story. The PDFs include color photographs, advertising, and other images, including full cover images. You can use Advanced Search to limit your search to article and image types. You can also search by date of publication, without using search terms, to get a full list of articles, advertisements, and other materials in a particular issue.

The library also offers two 20th-century Black newspapers in database form, including:

For more information about our historical newspaper holdings, see our Newspapers research guide.

We also provide searchable digital access to several other historical 20th and 21st-century magazines, including:

Additionally, these searchable databases provide citations and articles from a broader range of popular magazines from the 20th and 21st centuries:

If you have questions about locating historical periodicals, please feel free to contact Jill Anderson, Humanities Instruction Librarian.