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Overview of The Masses using the MJP's data

Let's begin with some basic statistics about The Masses, based on the MJP's catalogue records and text transcripts for the journal:

  • Number of issues: 79
  • Total number of pages: 2,154
  • Total number of words: 1,990,512
  • Average number of pages per issue: 27.3
  • Average number of words per issue: 25,196.4
  • Average number of words per page: 924.1

The magazine appeared every month between January 1911 and December 1917—the only exceptions are a three-month publishing hiatus between August and December 1912, and the appearance of two two-month double-issues in Oct/Nov 1915 and Nov/Dec 1917. The magazine was also organized into ten numbered volumes, though the second volume oddly does not exist (so the magazine, from Dec 1911 to Jan 1912, jumps from volume 1 to volume 3) while two volumes—seven and ten—each consist of a single double-issue.

Over the course of its seven year history, The Masses had four editors, though the first three occupied this post within the magazine's first 18 months:

  • Thomas Seltzer: four issues (vol 1.1-4: Jan-Apr 1911)
  • Horatio Winslow: eight issues (vol 1.5-12: May-Dec 1911)
  • Piet Vlag: eight issues (six in vol 3 & two in vol 4.1-2: Jan-Aug 1912)
  • Max Eastman: 59 issues (vol 4.3- vol. 10.1/2: Dec 1912-Nov/Dec 1917)

Because the magazine experienced a number of changes when Eastman came on board, we've chosen on this work site to identify volume 3 as the eight issues that Vlag edited in Jan-Aug 1912 (including the first two issues of volume 4) and volume 4 as the ten issues that Eastman edited, after the retooling of the magazine, between Dec 1912 and Sep 1913. We've also grouped volume 7's single issue with the eleven issues of volume 8, and the twelve issues of volume 9 with the single issue of volume 10. This leaves us with the following seven "volume" groupings, each of which corresponds (more or less) to one of the seven years from 1911 to 1917:

  • Vol 1 (Seltzer & Winslow): Jan-Dec 1911
  • Vol 3 (Vlag): Jan-Aug 1912
  • Vol 4 (Eastman): Dec 1912-Sep 1913
  • Vol 5 (Eastman): Oct 1913-Sep 1914
  • Vol 6 (Eastman): Oct 1914-Sep 1915
  • Vol 7_8 (Eastman): Oct/Nov 1915-Oct 1916
  • Vol 9_10 (Eastman): Nov 1916-Nov/Dec 1917

As to the contents of the magazine, we can count the number of discrete published items, as well as the number of contributors responsible for those items:

  • Total number of items (excluding table of contents, advertising, and miscellaneous material): 3,509
  • Average number of items per issue: 44.4
  • Total number of items signed by contributors: 3,010
  • Number of unique contributors (with each contributor counted just once, and name variations reconciled): 846
  • Average number of items per contributor: 3.5

Finally, we can also discern from MJP data the genre distribution of items published in the magazine. In both the text transcripts and catalogue records, the MJP describes a magazine's contents using ten different genre classifications:

  • advertisements
  • articles (or non-fiction prose)
  • contents (table of contents)
  • drama
  • fiction
  • images
  • letters
  • miscellaneous (includes the masthead and other texts about the magazine itself)
  • music
  • poetry

Nine of these genres (all except music) show up in The Masses, so we're able to chart what percentage of the magazine consists of writing from these genres. First, using our text transcripts, we can calculate the number of words in the magazine that are devoted to each genre:

We can also use the MJP's catalogue records to count the number of genre items that were published across the entire magazine. We have focused here on the six major genres that involve contributors (excluding table of contents, miscellaneous, and advertisements):

Finally, we can combine the data from the above two charts to show the average number of words for each genre item in the magazine:


Next: the development of The Masses over time

The above data on this page offer an overview of The Masses as an atemporal whole, but we can also trace how the magazine unfolded, volume by volume, over time. Click on the links below for such charts about the magazine's: