LIFE magazine’s first issue was published on November 23, 1936

The inaugural issue of LIFE magazine was published on November 23, 1936. Dam at Fort Peck, Montana, by Margaret Bourke-White graced the cover.

Here you can read the cover story from LIFE magazine’s first issue.

Dam at Fort Peck, Montana, 1936, printed c. 1970. Gelatin silver print: image, 12 11/16 × 10 7/16 in. (32.2 × 26.5 cm); mount, 19 15/16 × 15 7/8 in. (50.6 × 40.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Sean Callahan 92.55. © 2020 Estate of Margaret Bourke-White / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY

“Bourke-White was assigned to shoot a chain of dams being constructed in northeast Montana under the Public Works Administration agency of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. This photograph of Fort Peck—the world’s largest earth-filled dam—reveals the artist’s ability to impart grace and majesty to the bleak, utilitarian forms of industrial architecture” (Whitney). This image is now on view (floor 7) at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Margaret Bourke-White became one of the four original LIFE magazine photographers, which included Alfred Eisenstaedt, Thomas McAvoy and Peter Stockpole.

I had the incredible good fortune of working at LIFE a year out of college. I started as an editorial production assistant. My first night I was one of the last to leave as I was typing the photography credits (on a typewriter so our color separator could drive to our offices to pick them up. I had to wait for the driver too). The rest of NYC was celebrating the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. I should have learned from that first night that I’d be one of the last to leave for the next 7 years in my various roles in the production department.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, V-J Day in Times Square, 1945

Despite the long hours, LIFE magazine was an incredible place to work. One of the highlights, along with the education, lifelong friends, memories and stories I have, was meeting some incredible photographers, and even a few moviestars. I could do a whole post on those days.

Below is a photo of me with Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1988 at his 90th birthday celebration. We all loved Eisie.

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