The History of Us
To celebrate our 70th anniversary, we’re marking memorable moments from our past and shining the spotlight on our readers.
Stanley High, associate editor of Reader’s Digest, is among 17 editors and publishers selected by U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower to fly overseas and inspect German concentration camps.
After helping interview prisoners in concentration camps and studying documents regarding the German occupation of France, High is involved in creating a call to action for the U.S. to adopt an urgent policy on war criminals. A statement released on behalf of the reporters while they are still overseas claims that the Nazis were pursuing “calculated and organized brutality.”
“We are more than ever convinced that there can be no peace on earth until the right of the earth’s peoples to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is recognized and protected under law,” the statement reads.
The Reader’s Digest Association announces a French-language edition for Canadians, scheduled for release in July of the following year.
One year after Sélection makes its first appearance on newsstands, Reader’s Digest begins publishing an Englishlanguage edition in Canada. The publication quickly builds a reputation as one of the country’s most read and most influential magazines.
While statistics about the health risks of smoking cigarettes started to surface as early as the mid-1940s, the majority of the public is kept in the dark until Reader’s Digest publishes the groundbreaking article “Cancer by the Carton.” The story summarized the latest science linking tobacco to lung cancer at a time when an estimated 54 per cent of Canadians smoke.
Reader’s Digest is credited with contributing to the largest drop in cigarette consumption since the Depression.
The tobacco industry responds by introducing filter cigarettes, which they say will trap toxins before they can settle in the lungs. Full-page ads claiming that the research linking tobacco to cancer is inconclusive are placed in hundreds of newspapers.
Reader’s Digest becomes one of the first magazines to deny ads from cigarette companies. The publication continues to report on the topic with the release of a July article titled “Facts About the Cigarette Scare” debunking the filter-cigarette myths.
JUNE AND JULY 1959
Reader’s Digest publishes “The Longest Day,” a two-part excerpt of Cornelius Ryan’s book about the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Several years later, in 1962, it is adapted into a film. In addition to John Wayne, the cast features Sean Connery, Richard Burton and Ottawa native Paul Anka.
MAY AND JUNE 1974
An excerpt of Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family appears in Reader’s Digest in two instalments. In 1977, the miniseries adaptation will draw a recordbreaking audience of 130 million.
Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada establishes a foundation to promote high-quality journalism. Since that time, the foundation has given away $3.6 million in grants.
The Reader’s Digest Association publishes a condensed version of the Bible—40 per cent shorter than the 850,000-word revised standard version—after seven years of planning. The special edition is later presented to Pope John Paul II.
When the AIDS crisis starts making national headlines in the 1980s, Reader’s Digest responds by launching an advertising campaign to educate people on protecting themselves and their loved ones. The sixpage magazine spread runs in 38 countries and 15 languages.
The true story that inspires the romantic drama The Vow (2012), starring Canadian Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, appears in the pages of Reader’s Digest as “For Better, For Worse.”
In a Roper poll, Reader’s Digest Canada is named the country’s most trusted magazine brand—a status it has held almost every year since.
An expert panel convened by Masthead, the periodical industry’s watchdog, names Reader’s Digest Canada the most influential magazine in the country’s publishing history.
“Map of Shame,” an investigative health feature in Reader’s Digest Canada, reveals a lack of standardization in cancer treatment across the country. The story exposes enormous discrepancies in drug access between provinces, amounting to a “postcode lottery.”
Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada turns 70 and thanks all of you!
The first issues of the Canadian editions.
John Wayne in The Longest Day
Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in The Vow.