A Guide to the Texas Monthly Magazine Archives, 1972 - ongoing
Texas Monthly magazine was founded in 1972 by its publisher, Michael R. Levy, a 26-year-old native Dallasite who was "convinced that my state was ready for a really first class magazine that will appeal directly to the sophisticated, cosmopolitan folks that Texans have become." (Texas Monthly, Feb. 1973). Levy brought aboard 27 year-old William Broyles, Jr. as editor. Broyles assembled an editorial staff that was short on journalistic experience but charged with curiosity, intelligence, irreverence, and literary skills. Many of Texas Monthly's early staffers were friends of Broyles from Rice University, where the intellectual climate helped set the tone for the magazine. As Broyles later wrote, "If any one quality unites these farflung efforts, it is a boundless curiosity. Most of our stories began with one of us saying "I wonder..." (The Best of Texas Monthly: The First Five Years.)
Texas Monthly's first issue was published in February 1973, and it was not an immediate commercial success, selling only about 35,000 copies. But the magazine quickly gained recognition for offering a significant departure from the rest of the state's media. Texas Monthly contained intelligent and entertaining examinations of Texas life ranging from politics, culture, art, sports, personalities, lifestyles, the environment, fashion, crime, business, education, entertainment, and travel. Along the way, the magazine began to define how Texas was emerging as a contemporary urban state while still clinging to its rural mythic past.
From its beginnings, Texas Monthly developed a reputation as a "writer's magazine," and it helped develop new generations of writing talent while also offering a welcome forum for established voices. Texas Monthly hired many young writers as full-time staff members at salary with benefits, at the same time creating a community of professional writers centered near the magazine's home base in Austin.
In 1974, after only one year of operation, the editorial staff's efforts were rewarded with a National Magazine Award (the industry equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize) for Specialized Journalism. Since then Texas Monthly has established a solid reputation for editorial excellence, winning eight National Magazine Awards and 38 nominations— a record surpassed by only The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and Esquire.
Texas Monthly's editorial accomplishments have been matched by its financial success. Circulation increased from 20,000 in 1973 to nearly 200,000 by 1976. By the end of the 1970s, Texas Monthly was considered one of the top publications in the country, wielding major cultural and political influence in Texas and serving as a model for the startup of several other regional magazines across the country.
In 1981, Gregory Curtis succeeded William Broyles as editor. By 1988, Texas Monthly was generating $23 million annually in advertising revenue and had a circulation of 307,000, reaching two and a half million readers with each issue. It continued to win National Magazine Awards in the 1990s. Michael Levy won the 1999 Henry Johnson Fisher Award for Publishing Excellence, the highest honor given by the magazine publishing industry. In January 2000 the Columbia Journalism Review named Greg Curtis one of the ten best magazine editors in the country.
Organizationally, Texas Monthly underwent a profound change in 1998, when its owner, Mediatex Communications, a corporation primarily owned by Mike Levy, sold the magazine to Emmis Broadcasting, an Indianapolis-based communications company, for $37 million. Levy remained as publisher and Curtis continued as editor. In June 2000, Greg Curtis announced his retirement. Levy chose Evan Smith to replace him; Smith has served as Texas Monthly's deputy editor since 1994.
The Texas Monthly Archives consist of the following series: Editorial, Advertising, Production, Publicity and Marketing, and Financial and Circulation, which document all aspects of Texas Monthly magazine, from its beginning in 1972, to the present day. To date, only materials from the first five years of the Editorial Series (44 of the total 900 linear feet of records) have been processed.
The Editorial Series is by far the largest part of the collection, and contains two Subseries: “Issue Files” and “Editorial Research”. This material documents the drafts, edits, and fact checking related to each issue. Formats include drafts and back up research materials. Correspondence is minimal. In some instances actual letters to the editor were retained; likewise, some original entries for the “Contest” were retained. Press releases, brochures, notes and letters providing information for “Touts” were usually retained, along with early drafts. The papers include production notes, staff notes, libel and legal notes from David Anderson and Jim George, the magazine’s attorneys. Also included are galleys (usually multiple runs) page proofs and slicks. Occasionally there are photocopies of photographs used in the articles; in some of the Reporter proofs are page layout markups.
The Editorial Series also includes some editorial correspondence, budgetary summaries, receipts and notes from the editor re money matters, and drafts of articles by the editors (handwritten, as well as typed).
The processed papers have an earliest date of 1972 and extend into 1980, with the processed issue papers dating through 1978.
Direct inquiries to Archivist, Albert B. Alkek Library, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, Texas 78666-4604. (512) 245-2313.
Texas Monthly Archives, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.
Gifts donated by Michael Levy and Texas Monthly, since 1994. Contact the archivist for information about additional materials from Texas Monthly that have not yet been fully processed.
Processed by Carolyn S. McClurkan, C.A., 2000.
Detailed Description of the Collection