The Margaret Sanger Papers


The Masses (1911-1917)

Socialist Literary and political monthly. Founded in 1911 by Piet Vlag, a restaurant proprietor, as an organ of the cooperative-store movement in Greenwich Village, New York City. Run as a cooperative, its editors and contributors included a variety of radical activists and artists such as Max Eastman and Floyd Dell. In 1912, The Masses was reorganized as a popular Socialist magazine with Max Eastman as editor. With an emphasis on libertarian ideals, The Masses published the work of all the major artists and writers of the pre-World War I Greenwich Village radical rebellion. Among its contributors were John Sloan, John Reed, Walter Lippmann, W.E.B. DuBois and Margaret Sanger. The Masses operated with a cooperative editorial board, including Floyd Dell, John Reed, Crystal Eastman and others, and its editorial policy included support for birth control. In 1917, the Post Office revoked its mailing license under the powers of the Espionage Act. With his sister Crystal, Eastman revived the journal under the name The Liberator in 1918, but it espoused a more moderate political agenda. Sanger's indictment for the publication of The Woman Rebel and her later prosecution for opening the Brownsville Clinic received extensive coverage and editorials in The Masses.
References: Leslie Fishbein, Rebels in Bohemia: The Radicals of The Masses, 1911-1917 (1972); Richard Fitzgerald, "Masses, New York, 1911-1917; Liberator, New York, 1918-1924," in Joseph Conlin, ed., The American Radical Press (1974).