Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Document Focus: Australian Home Journal, July 1958

The Australian Home Journal was a magazine printed monthly and contained sewing patterns as well as information on the latest fashions, interior design and cooking - 1950 Housewife's dream!

The journal is actually a really interesting read. It's pretty much set out like most magazines today. There is an editors intro, a letter to the editors section, fashion, beauty, cooking.

The 'Heart to Heart' section is probably the most amusing, in one letter titled 'Love Laughs at Racial Differences' Jenny writes that she has fallen in love with a "New Australian" and that when her parents found out they were "horrified". It doesn't really make apparent if this new Australian is of another race or just another nationality, however I wouldn't be surprised if he was just Italian or Greek. Many migrants from these countries came to Australia after the war and even though they were European, they might as well have been an alien in the eyes of many Anglo Australians. In another letter from the issue Veronica also writes that "I often wonder why it is that although I'm 23 year old, I'm not yet engaged." Oh the tragedy! The agony aunt is rather unsympathetic in this matter, saying she probably cares too much about her looks, and that's no way to keep a man! The most hilarious letter comes from 'Bride' who writes "Please - please! - what can I do about the burnt offerings Allan, my new husband, brings me as a 'treat' every Sunday morning. I simply loathe burn't toast..." What a dilemma!

Maybe she should have just told him she doesn't like burnt toast, showed him how to use the toaster and then gave him some mustard to pacify the situation...

I'm pretty sure the Keen's mustard tins still look like this today

Nylons seemed to the the main focus of this edition with the editor exclaiming, "Leg lines really make the headlines this season, especially now that the overseas vogue for tinted nylons is with us". It seems that it was 1958 when coloured stockings hit Australian shores.

There are also quite a few beauty advertisements, from Max Factor Pancake makeup above, to teenage spots and pimples as well as an advertisement for "superfluous hair" treatment which is accompanied by a not so subtle picture of a woman with an unfortunate amount of upper lip hair.

There's a trendy decor section:

Really interesting was this advertisement for birth control as this was obviously two years before the release of the Pill in 1960. 

And the magazine also seemed to be obsessed with bowel conditions..... 

Possibly a side effect of the 1950s diet?

Anyway, onto the good stuff. The magazine contains images and patterns for the fashionable dress of the season. Trends from July 1958 included:

This issue contained three sewing patterns which I have included in this blog post. They do come with instructions, unfortunately it was quite hard to photograph them (there would have been pages and pages) but I'm sure most of you ladies who are experienced with patterns and pattern making will be able to work them out by yourselves!

Dress # 1

Dress #2

Dress # 3

In my collection I ahave nearly every issue from 1960, as well as a few more from later on in the 60s which I might blog about later. I'd love to get my hands on a few earlier issues however I think they are quite hard to come by. However I did come across an online archive where issues from April 1949 to Sept 1952. If you want to view them you can via this link:

Issues from 1960 in my collection


  1. Such a good (and funny) post Sarah! Throughly enjoyed it. Magazines are such rich historical sources.

  2. hi. this caught my eye on pin interest, as I am equally obsessed with the home journal. In the journals I have all sourced NZ, an obsession with weight and loosing it similarly to now - lol
    Thanks for the interesting article

  3. Superb. I love reading old magazines, it’s good for a giggle and for sometimes picking up handy tips that have since been lost to history. Thank you.
    All the best for the new year, I hope it brings you everything you need.