© 2023 KRCU Public Radio
90.9 Cape Girardeau | 88.9-HD Ste. Genevieve | 88.7 Poplar Bluff
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Almost Yesterday: The Burning of the Comic Books!

Southeast Missouri State University
The Comics Code Authority (CCA) was created to regulate the content of comic books. Publishers had to submit comics to the CCA to gain approval prior to distribution.

It seems like Almost Yesterday that hundreds of comic books and magazines, judged as indecent and unfit for children, were ceremonially burned in Cape Girardeau.  The date was February 24, 1949, and the location was St. Mary’s High School on the corner of Sprigg and William Streets.

This large burning was one of many that emerged across the nation in 1948-49, seeking to eliminate the perceived dangers of the “new” graphic comic books.  In the Depression years of the 1930’s, comic books gained widespread popularity, and began to attract criticism for the vivid use of violence.

But, World War II brought even greater use of graphic violence, and by the end of the war more than 60 million comic books per month were being sold in the United States.

In 1948 critics of this new and popular form of entertainment found an articulate voice in Dr. Fredric Wertham, a German-born medical doctor, who blamed comic books for the troubling new behavior in youngsters.

In 1948 Dr. Wertham published a widely read interview in Collier’s Magazine entitled, “Horror in the Nursery.” By the end of 1948 large comic book burnings occurred in such places as Spencer, West Virginia, and Binghamton, New York, -and the movement spread to Cape Girardeau.

Here the comic book gathering was led by Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, and parents.  Hundreds of comic books were collected, brought to St. Mary’s School and placed in large boxes in the hallways.

On the afternoon of February 24, 1949, the comic books went up in smoke as several hundred students in Cape Girardeau pledged to never again purchase or read objectionable magazines or comic books. 

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.
Related Content
  • It seems like Almost Yesterday that Southeast Missouri State Teacher’s College became a pioneer in radio broadcasting. With 200 watts of power and a wave length of 360 meters, WSAB went on the air on Tuesday, March 27, 1923.
  • It seems like Almost Yesterday that the largest tree in Charleston, Mo., was cut down. The giant cottonwood was said to be the largest and most loved tree in the city. Legend has it that the tree was fully grown when Missouri became a state in 1821 and that it witnessed the founding of the town in 1837.