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Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University
Updated: 6 min 28 sec ago

Crazies in Love: A Valentine’s Open House

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 17:00

Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015
Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
Location: Room 217, Perkins Library
Contact: Amy McDonald, amy.mcdonald@duke.edu

Dearest readers and friends, we long to see you on Valentine’s Day. Won’t you please set our hearts a-flutter and come to our Valentine’s Day open house?

Do you fear that you will be too busy penning epistles of undying love to your own beloveds to join us? Ah, but this event is crafted especially for you: we’ll be sharing the most swoon-worthy of love declarations from the Rubenstein Library’s collections, so you may find just the term of endearment you need to woo your mate.

Perhaps a few examples to help the time pass more swiftly until we meet?

We’re charmed by the simplicity of this short note from the scrapbook of Odessa Massey, Class of 1928:

From the Odessa Massey Scrapbook, 1924-1928.

Or the more expressive route taken by Francis Warrington Dawson—writing to Sarah Morgan, his future wife–is always sure to succeed:

Letter from Francis Warrington Dawson to Sarah Morgan, February 10, 1873. From the Francis Warrrington Dawson Family Papers.

“How deeply should I thank God that he has allowed me to know you, which is to love you, for the sun now has a brighter light & the sky a deeper blue. The whole world seems truer & better, & this pilgrim, instead of lingering in the depths, is breasting the healthy difficulties of existence, with his eyes fast fixed on you. Whatever else may fail, believe always in this devoted & unselfish love of Francis Warrington Dawson!”

Or whose heart wouldn’t melt upon receiving this most adorable valentine, from our Postcard Collection:

Valentine postcard, undated. From the Postcard Collection.

And there might even be tips on how to present yourself when you present your valentine!

Barbasol advetisement, 1944. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess_BH0643/

 

Have we convinced you yet? What if we mention that there will be chocolate and candy?

Until next Thursday,

Your Rubenstein librarians

The post Crazies in Love: A Valentine’s Open House appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Super Bowl XIX and the Million Dollar Minute

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 13:00

During this year’s Super Bowl, Kim Kardashian will spoof her own public image to promote a T-Mobile data plan. The cost of airing this half-minute commercial? $4.5 million. The price tag for a minute of airtime has grown exponentially since Super Bowl I, from the bargain rate of $150,000. Advertisers are willing to front the cost because Super Bowl commercials are a cultural phenomenon unto themselves—ad exposure is amplified far beyond television viewership on game day.

Cover of JWT’s study, “The Million Dollar Minute,” 1985. From the Burt Manning Papers, 1956-1988.

Super Bowl XIX produced network television’s first million dollar minute in 1985, prompting advertisers to ask, “Is it worth it?” The J. Walter Thompson (JWT) advertising agency set out to convince its clients that—with a stand-out, creative ad—Super Bowl advertising was indeed worth the price. The agency conducted marketing research following the 1985 game specifically to measure the impact of Super Bowl advertising. JWT interviewed over four hundred people about their football viewing habits and attitudes towards Super Bowl commercials, then summed up its findings in a report entitled, “Super Bowl XIX and the Million Dollar Minute: Anatomy of an American Institution.”

Over 100 million viewers tuned in to watch the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Miami Dolphins, 38 to 16, in 1985. This made it the tenth highest-rated show of all time, but it still fell short of the ABC network’s predictions and records set by past Super Bowls. The series finale of M*A*S*H* in 1983 still held the number one spot with a Nielsen rating of 60, compared to Super Bowl XIX’s rating of 46.

Even as football audiences were shrinking and Super Bowl viewership was in decline, the price of advertising spots continued to climb. “But,” JWT asked, “what about values beyond the ratings?” The agency argued that Super Bowl ads had a significant impact on Americans, beyond the number of viewers they reached.

Advertising during the Super Bowl was a gamble. Companies put down major financial outlays in the hopes that the impact of a Super Bowl ad would pay off. Thirty-six advertisers spent a combined $30 million for 52 minutes of commercials spread over six hours for the 1985 championship. JWT warned that an expensive ad could still be drowned out by the “chatter factor” of Super Bowl gatherings, or succumb to the power of the “remote-tuner zapping” channels.

JWT’s study confirmed the obvious with such observations as, “Super Sunday is a major social event” and, “Eating is a major part of Super Sunday.” But it also uncovered what makes a Super Bowl ad a unique opportunity for advertisers. Super Bowl advertisers had an automatic advantage with a significant segment of the audience. 14% percent of the viewers polled reported that they felt more favorable towards Super Bowl advertisers than the promoters they saw during the regular football season. Nearly half of the respondents were able to recall one or more commercials aired during the Super Bowl without any prompting.

IBM invested millions of dollars to air 13 spots sprinkled from the pre-game show through post-game programming. Apple took a different approach by publicizing its sole commercial in advance of game day. The company placed full-page ads in the Sunday newspaper, advising, “If you go to the bathroom during the fourth quarter, you’ll be sorry.” JWT had several high-profile clients in the Super Bowl that year, including Ford Motor Company, Hyatt Hotels, the U.S. Marines, and Miller Brewing Company.

Budweiser, Ford, IBM, and Apple commercials had the highest rate of unaided recall by participants in JWT’s study. IBM ran a 30-second spot over a dozen times featuring a light-hearted Charlie Chaplin impersonator. With slapstick flair, Chaplin shuffled around IBM’s PC Jr, “The computer that’s growing by leaps and bounds.” The PC Jr could run “powerful, up-to-date” programs like Lotus 123 on 8-inch floppy disks.

Apple’s ad, in contrast, had a dark and brooding tone. The minute-long commercial, entitled “Lemmings,” aired just once during Super Bowl XIX. A line of blind-folded businessmen mindlessly trudged one by one across a barren landscape until they plummeted over the edge of a cliff. Apple promised to break the monotony of “business as usual” when it released the Macintosh Office computer. JWT’s study found that the ad was the both the most loved and the most hated game day commercial that year.

The J. Walter Thompson Company’s recommendations for how to make the most of a Super Bowl advertisement sound familiar. Specifically, advertisers should use supplemental promotions and tie-ins with other forms of media to ensure their ad gets noticed. “Create additional top spin,” JWT advised. T-Mobile has certainly done so. The company released its Kim Kardashian ad early, giving Conan viewers the first glimpse. The ad won over 6 million hits on YouTube in two days. Entertainment news outlets, bloggers, and Kardashian’s 28 million Twitter followers have given the commercial momentum before it even appears on television. What is this “top spin” worth? Maybe $10 million.

Post contributed by Georgia Welch, Reference Intern for the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

The post Super Bowl XIX and the Million Dollar Minute appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Eating at the Rubenstein Library

Sat, 12/06/2014 - 15:00

We are still digesting the feast that was Wednesday’s Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen tasting event, but the bloating has died down enough for us to be able to share some photos from the celebration!

Delicious sweet potato custard pie, apple kuchen, and blueberry pie, ready and waiting to be devoured! And we’d only just recovered from Thanksgiving!

There was so much eating to be done, but Duke people are very determined people.

Here’s Rubenstein librarian Elizabeth Dunn serving Soldier Soup!

And, to our very great surprise, the Velveeta-creamed corn ring was gone in the first half hour of the event. We’d even made two! We retract any previous skepticism about the appeal of this most excellent “cheese food.”

Of course, we had the historical cookbooks and advertisements that provided the sources for our wonderful recipes out on display (with the stipulation that there could be no simultaneous browsing and eating; goblin sandwich filling would be tough to get off a 1777 cookbook…..).

Our intrepid taste-testers received zines containing all of the recipes and made by Rubenstein Library staff. If you couldn’t make the event, you can download a PDF copy of the zine here: Test-Kitchen-Zine-2014

Thanks to everyone who attended! We’ll have another tasting event—featuring recipes from our next round of test kitchen blog posts—in the late spring!

The post Eating at the Rubenstein Library appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

150 Years of J. Walter Thompson Co. History

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 14:56

On this day in 1864, William J. Carlton and Edmund Smith established the Carlton & Smith advertising business in New York, NY. A few short years later, the agency hired a young man by the name of James Walter Thompson. Initially hired as a bookkeeper, Thompson would ultimately purchase the company from Carlton in 1878 and change the agencies name to the J. Walter Thompson Co. It would go on to be one of the largest and most enduring advertising agencies in the world with more than 200 offices in 90 countries around the world.

In 1987, the agency placed its corporate archive in the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library here at Duke University. The archive consists of roughly 5,000 linear feet of material and 160 individual collections including the papers of nearly 60 former executives, the records of six offices, 25 departments and functional centers, and over a dozen “artificial” collections such as writings and speeches, agency publications, and newsletters. Navigating this web of interconnected collections is enough to intimidate the most seasoned archival researcher, including library staff.

To help tame the wilderness of the JWT archives, Hartman Center staff, led by Technical Services Archivist Richard Collier, along with our colleagues in Digital Project Services, created an online portal to the JWT archive. We hope the portal will facilitate researcher navigation and discovery of material within the archive and help JWT commemorate its 150th year of operation.

J. Walter Thompson Co. timeline

The portal consists of three major features: an interactive timeline (part 1 and part 2); an administrative history of JWT; and a list of collections associated with JWT in the Rubenstein Library. The timeline feature marks important dates in the history of JWT. You can scroll from event to event using the arrows or—if you were interested in learning about the agency during World War II for instance—you can scroll through the timeline bar and select a specific event.

7 Up’s timeline entry.

The second feature of the portal is an in-depth administrative history of JWT. This portion of the portal presents the history of JWT in a more linear fashion. Entries in the administrative history cover several basic topics: people, accounts, offices, innovations, and general company history. Researchers can trace when the company hired important personnel; acquired large, long-term clients such as Unilever, Ford, Kraft, Eastman Kodak, Kellogg, RCA, and the United States Marine Corps; opened national and international offices; technical achievements and innovations in radio, television, and print advertising; and other tidbits of company history such as milestones in billings and the history of the agency’s corporate branding. Each entry is illustrated with relevant photographs, advertisements, and internal documents.

The final feature of the portal is perhaps the most important component of the timeline. To further assist researchers in making connections between JWT’s corporate history and collections in the archive, we have included a list of associated collections with published online guides.

The timeline has been split into two sections: the first covering 1864 through 1930 and the second into the 2000s. We encourage you to explore the images, advertisements, records, and archival collections documenting the agency’s 150 years of operation. And, of course, Happy Birthday, JWT!

Post contributed by Josh Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist for the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.

The post 150 Years of J. Walter Thompson Co. History appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Now Accepting Applications for our 2014-2015 Travel Grants

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 17:35

Researchers! The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2014-2015 travel grants.

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture,  the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, and the History of Medicine Collections will award up to $1,000 per recipient to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein also offers the Eleanore and Harold Jantz Fellowship, a $1500 award for researchers whose work would benefit from use of the Jantz Collections.

The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, NC and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers.

Please note that the Rubenstein Library will be closed to the public from July 1st, 2015 through August 23rd, 2015, while we relocate to our newly renovated space. These dates are subject to change.

More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Recipients will be announced in April 2015.

The post Now Accepting Applications for our 2014-2015 Travel Grants appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Corn Ring with Creamed Mushrooms (1942)

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 17:20

This is a food story that begins in a laboratory.  Imagine white coats, goggles, beakers, hastily written formulas on a chalk board, and vapors with odd odors.  No, this is not the kitchen-lab of a trendy restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy.  This is a lab at the Kraft Cheese Company and the year is 1915.  This is the beginning of Velveeta.

According to a 1930 advertisement from Kraft’s Educational Department titled “The Story Behind the Product,” in the year 1915, Kraft research scientists, uncomfortable with the amount of valuable milk nutrients lost in the traditional cheese making process, embarked on a food quest: to create a cheese product that would retain all of these nutrients without losing all of the desirable characteristics of ordinary cheese.  Ladies and gentlemen, the results of that noble inspiration are, in my mind, truly a food miracle.  Named for its smooth, velvety texture when melted, Velveeta is a dairy-based product composed of cheddar cheese, whey concentrate, skim milk solids, cream, sodium phosphate, and salt (the 1930 ingredients list).  But how would the company sell this miracle cheese food to American consumers?  How would they transform this product from a science experiment to a staple of the American table?  This would be a task assigned to Kraft’s advertising agency of record, the J. Walter Thompson Co. (JWT).

With slogans such as “Let Them Eat it Freely!” and “As Digestible as Milk Itself!,” Velveeta’s  early advertisements were educational with a focus on the product’s nutritional benefits, particularly for growing children.  A 1932 advertisement that appeared in several women’s magazines boasted of the product’s endorsement by the Food Committee of the American Medical Association and its award of a nutritional rating of “Triple-Plus.”  Velveeta’s balance of vitamins and minerals would effectively build up “resistance to colds, throat and lung infections,” act as a “safeguard against unsound teeth and bones,” and contribute to the “building of firm flesh.”  With Velveeta’s nutritiousness established, by the mid-1930s JWT’s campaigns for Velveeta began to focus on the product’s versatility in the kitchen.

JWT’s Chicago office test kitchen, ca. 1920.

In order to instruct American consumers on the myriad culinary uses of Velveeta JWT began to introduce recipes in the advertisements, a practice pioneered by the agency in the 1910s for another Chicago-based food client, Libby, McNeil & Libby.  In 1918, JWT opened a test kitchen in its Chicago office in part to develop recipes that featured their client’s products as central ingredients.  It was in this kitchen that JWT developed hundreds of recipes incorporating not just Velveeta but many other clients’ brands.  As the home of the Archives of the J. Walter Thompson Co. the Rubenstein Library has hundreds if not thousands of these advertisements.

My obvious enthusiasm for Velveeta aside, I chose this recipe for a harvest-time corn ring with creamed mushroom sauce for several reasons.  First of all, despite the fact that the recipe is devoid of any harvest fresh ingredients, the fall harvest theme seemed appropriate for this time of year.  Secondly, mushrooms.  I also wanted to see what this thing looked like in color—I had a feeling the black and white photo wasn’t doing the dish any justice.  Lastly, with winter approaching I felt myself in need of some firm flesh building, one of the many benefits of a steady Velveeta diet.

I more or less stuck to the recipe in the ad with only slight modifications.  I at least tripled the amount of diced onion, added a pinch of paprika to the corn ring batter, and used crushed croutons rather than fresh bread crumbs.  Additionally, despite the fact that everything from our grandparent’s kitchens is now trendy again, I do not possess a ring mold.  To mimic a ring mold I used an upside-down glass ramekin in the middle of a 9-inch pie pan.  Although this rig lacked the authenticity of a 1940s ring mold I felt it to be sufficient.  I also opted against the recommendation of the recipe that I purchase the economical 2lb. loaf of Velveeta, opting instead for the 16oz. package.  Other than dicing the onion and quartering the mushrooms there was minimal prep.

The corn ring actually smelled wonderful while baking, filling the house with a warm cheesy aroma.  After plating the corn ring with the mushroom sauce I began to understand why they opted for a black and white photo in the ad.  Aside from the decorative greens, the brown and grey color palette of the dish wasn’t exactly photogenic so I sprinkled a dash of paprika on top to give it a bit of color.  There were also no serving instructions so we sliced it like a pie and watched the creamy mushroom sauce flow.  Although extremely rich the dish was actually quite good overall.  This is one instance at least where the product lives up to the promise of the ad.

Every Friday between now and Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing a recipe from our collections that one of our staff members has found, prepared, and tasted. We’re excited to bring these recipes out of their archival boxes and into our kitchens (metaphorically, of course!), and we hope you’ll find some historical inspiration for your own Thanksgiving.

Post contributed by Josh Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

The post Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Corn Ring with Creamed Mushrooms (1942) appeared first on The Devil's Tale.