Building on the success of Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang magazine, Fawcett Publishing, based in Robbinsdale, Minnesota published the first issue of True Confessions in August 1922. With a cover price of 25 cents, the front cover of the October, 1922, issue heralded, “Our Thousand Dollar Prize Winner—’All Hell Broke Loose’.” During the 1920s, Jack Smalley was the editor, and early issues in the run sometimes featured cover illustrations by Norman Saunders
Directed at a female readership between the ages of 20 and 35, the magazine climbed to a circulation of two million during the 1930s, carrying such articles as “The Romantic Story of Jack Dempsey‘s Cinderella Bride.” With True Confessions Fawcett was in competition with rival publishers Macfadden (True Story, True Romance, Experiences) and Hillman Periodicals (Real Story, Real Confessions, Real Romances, Crime Confessions). In 1945, Fawcett learned that 72% of the women who read True Confessions were married, just one piece of information gleaned after Fawcett spent $50,000 for a year-long survey involving 600 questions asked of True Confessionsreaders in Dayton, Ohio (chosen after the Census Bureau named it a typical wartime United States city).
By 1949, these old-style confession magazines faced a setback in the midst of a new comic book trend, over 100 love and romance titles from two dozen companies, with press runs averaging 500,000. Macfadden reported a loss in the second quarter of 1949, while Fawcett profited with its new romance comics, reaching a million readers with Sweethearts and 700,000 with Life Story.
During the 1950s, when True Confessions was priced at 15 cents, the editor was Florence J. Schetty. The contents of the March, 1959, issue, edited by Schetty and priced at 25 cents, provide insight into the magazine’s approach during that period. It included “God Is My Guide” by Clint Walker, “Hairdos You Can Do Yourself” by Grace A. Hufner, ” “When a Girl Goes to Prison” by Jules Archer, “I Couldn’t Forgive My Brother-in-Law” by Anonymous and “Let’s Enjoy Breakfast” by Erva Jean Vosburgh. Another editor in the field was Clark Dimond, who edited True Experience for Macfadden-Bartell during the 1960s.