Barbells & Bios: The Peary and Mabel Rader Collection

Barbells & Bios: The Peary and Mabel Rader Collection

 

Fans of the Iron Game will undoubtedly be familiar with the name Peary Rader. For more than fifty years, Peary, and his wife Mabel, oversaw the organization, publication and popularization of Iron Man magazine from their home town in Nebraska. They also proved pivotal in the organization of American weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding, for both men and women. Given the Raders’ longevity and importance in the field, their Collection marks a fascinating, and extensive, insight into twentieth century American fitness. In terms of its composition, the Rader Collection contains thousands of photographs submitted to Iron Man over several decades. Some of these images will be familiar to those who avidly read Iron Man, but many of those photographs not published are also included. Often attached alongside these images are comments, testimonials and personal insights from the trainers’ themselves. In this way, the images, and their accompanying text, provide a snapshot of American life and American culture as expressed through the medium of health. 

Aside from the Iron Man photographs, the Collection also boasts a vast number of business records and correspondence files related to the organization of the Iron Man enterprise. Aside from the York Barbell Company and the Milo Barbell Company, both of which have been studied by Dr. John Fair and Dr. Kimberly Beckwith respectively, few company records from this field exist. This makes the Rader Collection particularly relevant for those interested in the actual growth of fitness magazines during this time. Finally, and as is to be expected, the Rader Collection holds a vast number of magazines and books spanning weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding and general health. 

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