So, imagine my glee when Kottke did a round-up of magazine archives online.
I spent some time on Friday exploring the Time archives and became immediately sucked into the Letters to the Editor. I like to think of blogs as the 21st Century version of Letters to a global, connected Editor, so it made sense that I would seek out the best example of authentic voice.
As you can imagine, there is a great deal of bigotry, chauvinism and small-mindedness in these letters. That's no surprise. What I find fascinating and most delightful to read are the exceptions. Those who question Time's articles (and the general consensus of the day) and assumption.
Here, for example, is one reader's response to Time's "helpful" 1942 article on "How to Tell Your Friends from the Japs."
Sirs: Your warning in TIME, Dec. 22, that the "few rules of thumb" listed for telling Chinese from Japanese are "not always reliable" is an unparalleled masterpiece of understatement. Such absurd generalities as "Japanese are nervous in conversation, laugh loudly at the wrong time," or "most Chinese avoid horn-rimmed spectacles" would have certainly made the eminent Dr. Samuel Johnson apoplectic. ... I feel the appropriateness of an admonishing Tsk! Tsk! ... MARTIN J. KATZ Philadelphia, Pa.And then there are the little gems that, with a few words substituted could be written in today's Time. Take this letter from May 10th, 1943 that is a response to a story about high school graduates "who had forgotten, mislearned or never learned many details of U.S. history."
Sirs: . . . There are many reasons why students have failed so miserably in the past several years to maintain creditable scholastic standing and make sound academic records. . . . The present generation has been weaned on the comic strip. It has absorbed huge, indigestible amounts of outrageously inane (for the most part) Hollywood movie fare. It has been given cheap, miserably lean radio entertainment. In short, the younger generation hasn't been given half a chance to improve itself mentally. . . . PRIVATE J. A. FALLON Scott Field, III.While the site navigation of the Time archive is lacking and it's difficult to browse, it's pretty easy to get completely sucked into a decade and its new stories and letters.
 Spending vast amounts of time reading old magazines actually started in high school. Magazines were my Internet and I spent hours browsing. Sadly, when I said I was going to the library (on a Saturday), I was indeed going to the library.