For a long time now I have meant to tell you about TIME'S only woman Senior Editor, Content Peckham. Our most recent inquiry about her is from Reader Charles D. Jones, placer miner, of Nome, Alaska, who wrote, in part:
Dear Lady: Having attained an age when the comforts of home and a warm cheerful hearth have more of an attraction for me than chewing the fat with a bunch of laid-by sourdoughs, I have read everything in TIME including the list of editors, where I ran onto your name. At the risk of being a bit impertinent, is that your name or just your business name? My father's people came from New England . . . and your name recalled pictures of homes there belonging to my ancestors. It kind of animated old memories . . .
For the benefit of Reader Jones and all concerned, Content is indeed Senior Editor Peckham's given name (she is married to Joseph Cowan, a former newspaperman). There have been Peckhams in New England since the 17th Century, including Contents and a Freelove or two, but TIME'S Content Peckham is a native New Yorker (New Rochelle). We first caught sight of her in 1930, after she was graduated from Bryn Mawr, when she applied for a researcher's job. She was told to get some experience and try -again.
Her first job, as reporter, writer, then editor of a community magazine, introduced her to the vagaries of flatbed presses, printers, and the long hours of the publishing industry. Successive jobs in the circulation and promotion departments of a trade magazine, and as a space salesman ("as such, I was quite a novelty") increased her publishing experience to the point where she tried TIME again. She was hired in August, 1934, as a researcher.
In those days TIME had only 14 researchers. In 1936, when Miss Peckham became head Foreign News researcher, she had a staff of two. The staff was expanded to meet the coverage of World War II, but the war, with its late-breaking news and last-minute switches of cover subjects, was still a researcher's nightmare. Miss Peckham's firsthand knowledge of Europe helped considerably. She had made six trips to the Continent. She watched Hitler haranguing his followers as early as 1930; in 1937 and 1938 she observed the rebuilding of the German war machine. She was familiar with most of the major news centers. During the historic days that led to Munich, she was again in Germany, crossing to London in time to hear Prime Minister Chamberlain's famed "peace for our time" speech to the House of Commons. She also visited Latin America and Canada.
As chief of all research Content Peckham scans all copy that goes into the magazine and supervises the 50 researchers who check every word that is printed. She hires researchers for their special knowledge in the fields TIME writes about and prefers those who have had some newspaper experience.
TIME Inc. also has training programs for future researchers.
Miss Peckham maintains that there are many rewards in being a TIME researcher. One of them: she met her husband that way. On a trip to the Grumman Aircraft plant for a TIME story during the war he emerged from a telephone booth and introduced himself as the public relations man who was to show her through the plant. Says she: "Sometimes I have to remind him that I got him out of a phone booth."