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Guide to the Time Inc. Sports Illustrated Editorial Records
 MS 3009-RG 34

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Holly Deakyne

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 25, 2021 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical Note

Sports Illustrated (SI) launched on August 16, 1954 as a weekly magazine with Managing Editor Sidney James and Publisher Harry Phillips.

According to an unsigned capsule history in the General Files of the publishing and business records (MS 3009-RG 35), Time Inc. cofounder and president Henry R. Luce asked Executive Vice President Howard Black to come up with new publishing venture ideas. Black's May 21, 1953 letter to Luce contained a paragraph reading: "A Sports Weekly -- everything in sports -- hunting, fishing, boating. this would be a picture magazine -- 10 cents a copy." By June 1953, Time Inc. set up a department to develop this magazine.

The "Editorial Notes" in the RG 35 General Files state that SI was the first Time Inc. magazine to include bylines. It started with well-known sports writers. Later it incorporated articles from famous authors such as "[William] Faulkner and Catherine Drinker Bowen on the Derby," and "Robert Frost on the All-Star Game." Great sports writers also started their careers as early SI staff writers including Robert Creamer and "Tex" Maule.

For the majority of Time Inc.'s existence, the company maintained a strict separation of editorial from the publishing and business side of each magazine, colloquially called the separation of "church" (editorial) and "state" (publishing). Editorial includes the editors, researchers, and art department. The editorial side reported up to the editor-in-chief and the publishing/business side reported up to the corporate business executive which was the president prior to 1960 and the chief executive officer after. Henry Luce structured Time Inc. this way so that the business side could not (in theory) influence the editorial content of the publications. For example, the advertising sales people could not interfere with a magazine's decision to run an article on the dangers of cigarette smoking, even though it might mean losing millions of dollars in tobacco ads.


Hooper, Bill. Email to Holly Deakyne, 10 June 2016.

Time Inc. Sports Illustrated Publishing and Business Records, MS 3009-RG 35, New-York Historical Society.