S. S. McClure (S S. S. McClure)

S. S. McClure

American Publisher. Subject of the book “Success Story, The Life and Times of S.S. McClure” by Peter Lyon. Samuel McClure was a Scotch-Irish immigrant who entered the American publishing world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was described as a “genius” who had a revolutionary impact on the country’s newspapers and magazines and he was considered a major participant in the progressive reform movement of the early 20th century. Samuel McClure was born in northern Ireland in February 1857, the oldest son of parents of Scottish and French descent. His father died in an accident in 1865 and a year later his mother immigrated with her family to America. They lived on a farm in Indiana with Sam leaving home to attend high school in Valparaiso. Sam enrolled at Knox College in 1874 and established the Western College Associated Press which provided news items for other college publications in the Midwest and was editor of the Knox Student. McClure moved to the East Coast after graduation in search of a job. His first was with a bicycle manufacturer where he became the editor of a magazine titled “The Wheelman” which promoted the emerging sport of bicycle riding.  McClure’s subsequent plans resulted in the creation of a magazine in 1892 which he called “McClure’s Magazine.” McClure enlisted a fellow Knox College grad John Phillips, to be assistant editor along with another Knox classmate, Albert Brady who became his business manager.  Oscar Brady who was the older brother of Albert Brady served as the magazine’s general manager.  McClure’s Magazine became in the words of biographer Peter Lyon, “the most exciting, the liveliest, the best illustrated, the most handsomely dressed, the most interesting, and the most profitable of an abundance of superior magazines” in the period from 1890 to 1915, “the Golden Age of the American magazine.”  Albert Brady later died in 1900 in Rome Italy while on a business trip for McClure’s Magazine.  His brother Curtis Brady took over as business manager of the magazine.  McClure’s Magazine had become very successful by 1900 with a circulation of almost 400,000. The magazine set out on a course in January 1903 that made a lasting impact on American journalism.  In that issue there was the first of Lincoln Steffens’ articles on corruption in U.S. cities, an installment of Ida Tarbell’s expose of Standard Oil and an article by Ray Stannard Baker on labor union violence. An editorial in the issue by McClure himself described the trio of articles as showing “The American Contempt of Law.” Muckraking journalism and an era of progressive reform in America had begun in earnest.  McClure eventually faced a serious problem in 1906 at the height of the magazine’s success with the departure of the core staff including Phillips, Baker, Tarbell and Steffens to form the American Magazine.  McClure’s Magazine then began a gradual decline. Eventually McClure lost financial control and though the name continued McClure’s Magazine declined in circulation until the last issue appeared in March 1929.  McClure lived on in New York City where he spent much of his time at the Union League Club pursuing research projects.  He finally received public recognition for his career when he was awarded the Order of Merit of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1944.  Samuel McClure died on March 21, 1949, at the Saint Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. (bio by: Marty)  Family links:  Spouse:  Harriet Hurd McClure (1855 – 1929)* *Calculated relationship

Born

  • February, 17, 1857
  • Ireland

Died

  • March, 03, 1949
  • USA

Cemetery

  • Hope Cemetery
  • Illinois
  • USA

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