Life Magazine

In 1936, what was featured on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine?

And the answer: construction of a dam.

Photo credit: NPR.org

Long before Instagram, there was Life magazine. Its first cover in 1936 depicted the Fort Peck Dam along the Missouri River, in the American state of Montana. The photographer was documentarian and war photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White.

Life magazine was a pioneer in the quickly evolving world of photojournalism. The magazine's founder, Henry Luce, embarked on a novel mission of visually showing the world's news instead of telling all about it. Each photographer was highly-skilled in their craft and set a standard of publishing only the best of their photographs. The magazine's coverage of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were largely unmatched at the time of production and deeply moving. At the height of its popularity, Life had a circulation of over 8 million across America.

Some timeless American photos that are now revered as American classics were first published in Life. Take a look below:

"The Kiss" by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1945)
"Tank Man" by Stuart Magnum (1989)
"Goin' Home" by Ed Clark (1945)

Read more about Life's sustained impact on American pop culture here.


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