The latest addition to Bob Katzman’s downtown Skokie store tells you just what you need to know about why the store changed its name.
When Katzman opened in downtown Skokie more than two years ago, his store’s name was Bob’s Newsstand, which referred to earlier days when Katzman ran a newsstand in Chicago.
But the historic magazines, newspapers, flags, posters and other collectibles make the packed store at 4906 Oakton St. more of a museum. Its current name, Bob’s Magazine Museum, feels just right — especially with his new extraordinary collection from the Vietnam War.
Katzman went through a plethora of magazines to assemble valuable and eclectic coverage of the Vietnam War — from fighting in the fields to war reaction back home, to raging controversies and neglected war heroes.
“I spent a month trying to create an archive for the Vietnam War,” he said. “There doesn’t exist in the United States a place you can call or walk in and buy magazines covering the complete period.”
Katzman, who calls himself “a history neurotic,” assembled stories ranging from 1950 to 1975 from different national magazines.
Even amid the store’s narrow walkways and cluttered space is meticulous organization with materials defined under more than 100 categories. He says his new Vietnam War archive is the store’s 106th section.
“I went through 10,000 magazines in 30 days to create it,” Katzman said.
He didn’t use computers to organize his collection but just good old-fashioned pen and paper, allowing him to make a grid to keep track of what he was processing.
The coverage is from more than a half-dozen national magazines including Time, Newsweek, Life and Lady’s Home Journal. He recorded how many articles come from different periods so they could be cross-referenced and researched.
“I did not take everything,” he said. “I did not take things I thought were superficial or not up to the standards I was establishing as I went along.”
First-hand coverage of Cambodia and Laos, cover stories on the Kent State massacre and escalating American war involvement are all captured by different journalists, and now located in one space. The window of his downtown store contains some of the most provocative coverage although he reserved the most disturbing images for inside.
Retrospectives, analysis, photo essays — they’re all part of Katzman’s remarkable assemblage.
The response, however, has been frustrating to Katzman. He has called school districts and major media outlets but interest has been timid at best.
“I can’t find my counterpart anywhere,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a Twilight Zone of isolation when it comes to concern or interest about history.”
Katzman, 62, was 39 when he opened a similar store — although a bit larger — in Morton Grove. He moved the store to downtown Skokie with most of his collectibles now selling for under $20. The earliest item in the store dates back to 1576.
He continues to treasure history, looking to share another piece of it with the world.
“Coast to coast in this country, 3 million square miles, 310 million people, and there is no other place that has an archive of 157 different periodicals for people who are doing research on Vietnam,” he said. “But it’s all here.”
Katzman is still waiting for more of those people to answer his call.
The Magazine Museum featured on WGN Radio
Nick Digilio of WGN Radios Nick D show welcomed Bob Katzman, owner of The Magazine Museum on May 30, 2012.
From The DePaulina 02/20/12 :
Students spend quarter at Skokie’s Magazine Museum
From berlin stirred.up 02/13/12 :
Berlin, Germany – link to Bob’s DePaul University talk on learning how to become an Entrepreneur
From Trib Local 02/01/12 :
DePaul students help the Magazine Museum enter the digital age
From ABC 7 News 10/25/11 :
“Bob’s Magazine Museum in Skokie is a shrine to the days before computers, a place where the written word is king.”
From Chicago Reader 09/29/11 :
“From Chicago, Bob did what we in Wilmington had been unable to do. Next time I’m in Chicago I hope to buy him lunch. Amazon should hire him to do customer relations.”
From New City 09/23/11 :
“To enter Bob Katzman’s Magazine Museum (‘Where Print Still Lives’) is to leave the aggressively ordinary surroundings of downtown Skokie and find oneself in the weird and disorienting universe of Jorge Luis Borges, the blind Argentinian librarian whose fantastical tales and essays wrestle with the concepts of chaos and order within a print-defined world.”
From NelsonAlgren.org 06/18/11 :
“Attention Algren collectors, fans, and all and sundry:
Bob Katzman, owner of the Magazine Museum in Skokie, has assembled an Algren collection well worth looking at. You’re invited to call and/or visit Bob, whose own life and writings have an Algren quality — check out the Web site below. Do spread the word, and should you talk to Bob, mention the Algren Committee for that frisson we provide any transaction.”
read more on Nelson Algren
Where Print Still Lives
I carry 100,000 periodicals back to 1681.
I carry original Life, Ebony, Look, Post, Time, Newsweek, Colliers, Vogue, Esquire, Cosmo, Bazaar, Fortune, Playboy, McCall’s, Rolling Stone, Lady’s Home Journal, Better Homes, Sports Illustrated, Motor Trend, Mad, Jazz, military, film, theater and train magazines, as well as 20,000 posters.
Prices are mostly low and people will love to receive these authentic gifts reflecting the actual times of their lives. Buy a woman a magazine from when she was “Sweet 16” or graduated from college, or from when a man was in Viet Nam or opened a business. Be creative. It doesn’t have to be a birthday. I also carry flags of all nations for any occasion that calls for them.
Theater groups use us as a source for props as do movie production companies, for decades.
Teachers from all grade levels use my store as a source of unique teaching aids, and even bring their students to tour my store, at no charge. We are a sort of retail museum, and cooler to visit than you may imagine. Please inform any teacher or theater prop managers you may know about our existence.
I sell all five of my non-fiction books about Chicago from a street-level point of view. I opened the original wooden Bob’s Newsstand in Hyde Park in 1965 when I was 15. If you think you really know how Chicago works, you will be surprised by what you never read in the newspapers, forty years ago. I write about violence, crime, love, grit, determination, friendship, carpentry, Judaism and revenge.
I have sold over 5,000 of my books since 2004 all over the United States and in Europe.
and learn more about my publishing company, or go to
to read my most recent and true Chicago stories, at no charge
A 2,000 sq. ft. store near Chicago with 100,000 periodicals dating back to 1681.
People buy old magazines for birthday or anniversary gifts — the day their mom was born or married, the day their dad went into the Army in World War II, or came home — wonderfully warm memories come flooding back when people receive these gifts and see the old car ads, Coke ads or fashions of the day. Or, maybe some big political scandal that’s ancient history now.
People who give the gift of an old magazine are always amazed at the tremendously emotional response they receive from the recipient and they come back to me to give old magazines again and again.
Click here for Bob Katzman’s blog.
Impress Your Friends – Read Old Magazine Articles
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