People and How to Deal With Them Magazine Was as Bizarre as it Is Forgotten


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

A stack of People and How to Deal With Them magazines

Date: 1948 – 1949
Publisher: The Stevens-Davis Co., Chicago

The Cover Promises: “Dealing with the KNOW-IT-ALL.” And that people, generally speaking, are something you just have to deal with. And that personal space would not be invented until at least the first Eisenhower administration.

Representative Quotes:

Whenever you are dealing with friends, fellow workers, customers, supervisors, or managers, remember that ‘wait-and-see’ courtesy is a weak thing, but ‘make-an-effort’ courtesy packs a punch! )October 23, 1948, page 7)

American progress was founded on self-reliance. Too much reliance on government is the road to ruin. (February 26, 1949, page 5)

You know how if you follow blues, country, and soul music far enough back you’ll find that they all started out as pretty much the same thing– some singer moping with a guitar? Something like that likewise occurs if you trace the origins of self-help writing, pop-business journalism, and the very idea that the free market encourages the littlest folks to triumph through their hard work and innovation.

But we’ll get to all that. First, let’s enjoy some more covers. First, here’s how to sell yourself…

… as kid furniture.

And here’s why America is always worth thanking:

In the land of the free, nobody cares how much you and your kid stink.

A thin freebie weekly that ran only 8 pages, sold no ads, and was mailed for free to whoever wanted it, People and How to Deal With Them at first seems a bit mysterious. Most of its articles dispense vague advice about being enthusiastic, the value of teamwork, and how to get along with co-workers:

The magazine sometimes feels like the headwaters from which today’s terrible management/leadership books have flowed. Of course, back then, nobody was ready for all the paradigm-smashing and outside-the-box adventurousness of today’s workplace.

That said, there were some rebels. Can anyone read this next question and not conclude the employee was lashing out at management?

Of course, even in the 1940s Americans weren’t eager to read a magazine that offered nothing but advice about how to be polite and know your place. So one week the editors ran a photo of a lion in a race car going 300 miles per hour.

Note the lion cubs being forced to watch this nightmare! (Click on the photo to expand it.)

But most of those 8 pages each week were devoted to instructing working Americans in discipline, decency, and productivity, often through the innovative use of horrifyingly insulting metaphors:

The only line that could possibly follow that is “Wait, shit, sorry, you aren’t like cows at all. Can I start over?”

The more closely you look at this upbeat little curio, the more apparent it becomes that the powers behind People and How to Deal With Them actually harbored a pretty dim view of the people they’re forced to deal with– or, at least, of those subordinates who don’t know how to beam all day long:

Employees’ job is to listen. And what is the job of management?

The job of management is to get to know their employees’ wretched circumstances through insight, which apparently does not entail all that listening that “attractive Mary Parr” has to do.

There’s a familiar pattern to most of the magazine’s photo selections, one that anticipates the daytime news programming at Fox: Pair up a beauty with an attack upon the enemies of capitalism:

Working men turn up much less frequently– and rarely as positive examples. Compare those beaming free-market ingénues with these greedy schlubs.

If he would only listen he would understand that it is wrong for him to ask for higher wages!

Then there’s these selfish guys:

Only churlish union-types would believe that some sort of living wage is more important than a foxy magazine cover:

Here’s the actual article accompanying one of those photos, from the ongoing feature “People, Profits, and Progress,” which could have been subtitled “But not necessarily in that order.”:

Gregory Hale’s “People, Profits, and Progress” isn’t to be confused Colin Shaw’s “People, Ideas, and Places,” an occasional feature whose title a stricter editor might have shortened to “Nouns.” It’s in that space in the October 23, 1948, issue where People and How to Deal With Them finally ran a photo on a man who it didn’t feel obliged to dress down: Dr. Willard H. Dow of Dow Chemical, who knows that “under a socialistic economy, the money needed to provide thousands of good jobs in this industry would have had to come from the tax payers’ pockets.”

Yes, selling napalm to the government to be paid for by the taxpayers is a much more pure form of capitalism than a mechanic asking for a cost of living adjustment. Also: Nukes! Bhopal! But never, ever, dis-courteousness. We salute you, Dow Chemical!

Look, you working stiffs, if you must stop listening for a moment and presume to address your superiors, at least be sure you pronounce the “kyoo” in “recuperate,” a word you’re probably saying because you need a couple unpaid days off for some injury that is almost certainly your fault.

And, look, I don’t want to be a dick or anything, but you really need to learn how to deliver criticism: