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Mary Frederika "Freda" Kirchwey (September 26, 1893 – January 3, 1976) was an American journalist, editor, and publisher strongly committed throughout her career to liberal causes (anti-Fascist, pro-Soviet, anti-anti-communist). From 1933 to 1955, she was Editor of The Nation magazine. She corresponded with Emma Goldman and reviewed Goldman’s book; she was somewhat condescending in warning her against criticizing USSR because “the enemy can distort and utilize such opinions as you hold for his own ends.” She was a member of Friends of Emma Goldman soliciting help when Goldman had a stroke. In 1942 she was the only woman owner of a national magazine in the United States.
Born in Lake Placid, New York in 1893 as the Progressive Era was getting under way, Kirchwey was the daughter of pacifist Columbia Law Professor George W. Kirchwey. She attended Barnard College from 1911 to 1915.
Kirchwey began working locally in journalism after graduation, at the New York Morning Telegraph, Every Week magazine, and the New York Tribune.
In 1918, she was brought to The Nation by then editor Oswald Garrison Villard, largely at the behest of Kirchwey's former professor at Barnard, Henry Raymond Mussey, first working in the International Relations Section. In 1922 she became managing editor. In 1925 Kirchwey, an active feminist, published Our Changing Morality, a collection of articles dealing primarily with changing sexual relations. In 1926 she launched These Modern Women, a set of essays portraying successful feminist lives, including work by Crystal Eastman. Kirchwey also wrote articles in The Nation about early feminists Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul. She succeeded Villard as editor of the magazine in 1933, first as part of a four-person committee, then as the sole editor, becoming the first woman at the top of the masthead of a national weekly newsmagazine. In 1937, she bought the magazine from Maurice Wertheim, who had purchased it from Villard in a brief and particularly contentious period of the magazine's history.
Kirchwey, as president of Nation Associates, remained editor of the paper until 1955, when McWilliams became editor and George Kirstein became publisher.
After 1955, Kirchwey became involved with a collection of civil rights and pacifist organizations, including the Committee for a Democratic Spain, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Committee for World Development and World Disarmament, the League of Women Voters, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In November 1915, Kirchwey married Evans Clark, then a Princeton University professor who later worked for The New York Times. They had three sons, only one of whom survived to adulthood.
She died on January 3, 1976, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
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