Hartman Center News
Post contributed by Ashton Merck, Graduate Intern for the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History
In the mid-twentieth century, the Duke Power Company Home Service wished its customers a “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year” with an annual collection of holiday recipes.“Merry Christmas,” circa 1950s (Item 1950s-0499); “Recipes,” circa 1950s (Item 1950s-0504)
The John W. Hartman Center has at least two of these pamphlets in the Nicole di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. These cookbooks focused almost exclusively on holiday baking. One cookbook included separate sections for cakes, pies, candy, cookies, and desserts, while “salads, sandwiches, and breads” were combined into one category.
In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided that I would give one of these recipes a try. Quite a few of them looked recognizable as something my great-grandmothers used to make, like “Cheery Cherry Cake” or “Skillet Cookies.” Others, like a “Chocolate Yule Log” – which involved an unholy combination of mashed potatoes, confectioner’s sugar, and shredded coconut – sounded completely inedible. But one recipe, for “Spiced Cherry Bells,” caught my eye. Somewhat inexplicably, the recipe called for ginger and instant coffee, in lieu of the usual holiday spices like cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg. It also required more advanced assembly than the other cookies or cakes, through the creation of the “bell” shape. It seemed like something that was unusual enough to be worth trying.“Spiced Cherry Bells,” from “Merry Christmas” cookbook
As soon as I mixed the dry ingredients, it was clear that there was not enough of either the ginger or the instant coffee to overcome the 3 ½ cups of flour called for in the recipe. I took note of that fact, but did not adjust the recipe for my taste, resisting the temptation to add copious amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg. I next realized that the ingredients as mixed was simply too crumbly to form a stable dough that I could roll out, even with the use of a stand mixer. I had to add about another 1/8 cup of heavy cream to get the dough to come together. Even still, it called for so much shortening that it was tricky to roll out to the thickness specified. I eventually managed to get the cookies onto the (mercifully, ungreased) cookie sheet, where I shaped them into something that, if you squint your eyes, could be imagined as “bells.” I then baked them for the allotted time of 15 minutes.
I considered what the small quantity of the “spices” might indicate about the time and place in which this recipe was created, and imagined several possible hypotheses: Perhaps instant coffee or ginger were expensive or hard to come by; or, the far more likely scenario, they were so ubiquitous that they might already be in the pantry anyway. That got me thinking – when was instant coffee invented? Could it have been a new or trendy product at the time?
For an initial answer to these questions, I requested a box from the J. Walter Thompson “Competitive Advertisements” collection. The ads in the folders depicted instant coffee drinkers as married couples engaged in energetic outdoor activities or home improvement projects, like this campaign from 1956:“When the Moment Calls for Coffee,” Hot Beverages – Coffee (1 of 2), 1956, Box 1956-15, Competitive Advertisements 1955-1997, J. Walter Thompson Company, Rubenstein Library, Duke University.
From looking at these ads, it seemed like instant coffee was one of many “convenience foods” that became tastier and more widely available in the post-WWII era, along with TV dinners and canned foods. I then requested another box from the Alvin Achenbaum collection, which contained several market research studies on coffee. The studies further emphasized that consumers valued instant coffee primarily for its convenience and low cost.
I also noticed that a few ads included recipes that contained small amounts of instant coffee, like this one for Swedish Beef Puffs at right.
But these ads were few and far between. As I perused the market research, I looked to see if the consultants recommended promotion of alternate uses of instant coffee in recipes, or baking, but they did not. Instead, the market researchers were far more interested in carefully segmenting the coffee buying market by their tastes and preferences, rather than by inventing new and creative uses for the product.
So, after this investigation – using Rubenstein collections, of course – it seems that instant coffee was already cheap and ubiquitous by the time it made it into the “Spiced Cherry Bells,” but the choice to use it in a recipe might have seemed as unusual then as it does now.
The Verdict: The cookies were … okay. The flavor of the baked, slightly caramelized maraschino cherry was delicious, and the “filling” mixture which called for pecans, brown sugar, and butter was something of a foolproof combination. But, as I expected, neither the instant coffee nor the ginger came through at all in the final bake.Unfortunately, they taste as good as they look.
Described by taste-testers as “aggressively neutral” and “a bit dry,” the dough was definitely the weak point in these cookies. “You almost get bored with it halfway through,” one observed. Yet the cookies also had a confusingly familiar flavor to them; there was plenty of room for the individual housewife to give the recipe her own spin enough to call it her own. As another taste tester noted, the recipe is “very much of the era.”
The post Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Cooking with Duke Power appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2020-2021 travel grants. If you are a researcher, artist, or activist who would like to use sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers for your work, this means you!
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, the History of Medicine Collections, and the Human Rights Archive will each award up to $1,500 per recipient ($2,000 for international applicants to the Human Rights Archive) to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein Library also awards up to $1,500 for individuals who would benefit from access to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history collections through the Harry H. Harkins, Jr. T’73 Travel Grant.
The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, North Carolina, and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers listed above.
More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM EST on January 31, 2020. Recipients will be announced in March 2020.
The post Applications Now Accepted for the 2020-2021 Travel Grant Program appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Kasia Stempniak, John W. Hartman Center intern for 2018-2019 and Ph.D. student in Duke’s Romance Studies department.
The Hartman Center’s new exhibit, “No One Can Suppress Archie Boston,” on display through October in the Stone Family Gallery, focuses on Archie Boston, a graphic designer whose innovative and socially-conscious designs shed valuable insight into the intersections of race and identity in the advertising world.
Raised in segregated St. Petersburg, Florida in the 1940s, Archie Boston moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s to pursue a career in graphic design. In 1963, Boston and his brother Brad started their own advertising agency, Boston & Boston. As one of the first African-American owned advertising agencies, Boston & Boston faced difficulties securing clients in an almost exclusively white industry. Rather than hide their identity, Boston and his brother confronted the industry with provocative self-promotional ads that made explicit references to slavery and racism. “We wanted our potential clients,” Boston remarked in an interview, “to know that we were a black firm.”
Boston later worked at the ad agency Botsford & Ketchum where he developed one of his most famous ads for Pentel that boasted the caption, “I told Pentel what to do with their pens.” By placing himself at the center of the ad, Boston subverted the usually invisible presence of the advertising executive. At a time when very few African-Americans worked in advertising, the ad also announced a subtle shift in the demographics of the industry.
In the late 1970s, Boston left the agency to pursue a career as a professor at California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) where he developed the design program for the next thirty years all while still operating his own graphic design firm, Archie Boston Graphic Design.
The first African-American recipient of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Fellow Award, Boston served multiple terms as president of the Art Directors Club of Los Angeles where he was the first African-American elected to this position. In his final lecture at CSULB, Boston articulated how design, teaching, and social activism shaped his career: “I want to be remembered as a professor who cared about his students and did what he thought was best for them. I want to be remembered as someone who stood up against criticism and spoke out on controversial issues. And finally I want to be remembered as a designer and educator, someone who documented my experience as an African American.”Book jacket image for Fly in the Buttermilk
The Archie Boston Papers offer a comprehensive view of Boston’s wide-ranging career including early student sketches, self-promotional ads for Boston & Boston, corporate ads for Lloyd Bank, Pentel, and Yamaha, awards and university materials related to Boston’s tenure at CSULB as well as Boston’s two published texts, his memoir Fly in the Buttermilk: Memoirs of an African American in Advertising, Design & Design Education (2001) and Lil’ Colored Rascals in the Sunshine City (2009).
Some of Boston’s most important designs, including Boston’s famous Pentel ad, are on display in the exhibit. Other highlights of the exhibit include Boston’s most recent work that engages directly with race and identity, including poetry and designs that Boston created after being inspired by Black Lives Matter, the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the 2017 event in Charlottesville, Virginia. These recent works convey a growing sense of urgency and frustration with the treatment of African-American communities in the United States.
The Archie Boston Papers are available for the public research at the Rubenstein Library.
The Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019-2020 travel grants! Our research centers annually award travel grants to students, scholars, and independent researchers through a competitive application process. Congratulations to this year’s recipients:
Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture (Mary Lily Research Grants):
Emily Fleischer, Artist: Artistic project will include a series of drawings based on historic needlework that create a narrative about the lives of American women before 1920
Charlie Jeffries, Faculty, University of East Anglia: Your Best American Girl: Construction of Adolescent Sexualities in the US Culture Wars
Laura Kenner, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University, History of Art and Architecture Department: Text, Sex, and Video: New York City’s Downtown/Underground Scene (1973-1996)
Nell Lake, Doctoral Candidate, Brown University, American Studies Department: Research for dissertation that will link 20th century moral discourse around care and domestic labor with 20th century politics of women’s work
Jessica Lapp, Doctoral Candidate, University of Toronto, Faculty of Information: The Provenance of Protest: An Exploration of Feminist Activist Archiving
Kaja Marczewska, Research Fellow, Coventry University, Centre for Postdigital Cultures: Distribute-it-Yourself: Judy Hogan and the History of North American Small Press in Circulation (1960s-1990s)
Jennifer Withrow, Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Economics Department: Three Essays on Labor and Marriage Markets: Farm Crisis and Rural-to-Urban Migration in the United States, 1920-1940
John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture:
Selena Doss, Faculty, Western Kentucky University, History Department: Involuntary Privilege: Black Southerners and Territorial Separatism, 1783-1904
Jacqueline Fewkes, Faculty, Florida Atlantic University, Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and Anthropology: American Mosques: An Ethnohistory of Space, Memory, and Muslim-American Community
John Harris, Faculty, Erskine College, Department of History: Pirates of New York: The United States and the Final Era of the Illegal Slave Trade, 1850-1867
Martina Schaefer, Doctoral Candidate, Vanderbilt University, Department of History: Black Power and Afro-Caribbean Religions: The Spiritual and Cultural Trajectory of Black Empowerment, 1966-1998
Kali Tambree, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Sociology: Study of enslaved Africans and death on slave ships en route to the Americas
Charles Weisenberger, Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst, History Department: The Telfair Family and the Antebellum One Percent: Slavery in the Early United States, 1735-1875
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History:
Sarah Arnold, Faculty, Maynooth University, Department of Media: Television, Technology and Gender: New Platforms and New Audiences
Mark Bartholomew, Faculty, University of Buffalo, School of Law: “Advertising Outrage and its Legal Regulation”
Rachel Kirby, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University, American and New England Studies: Study of visual representation of Southern agricultural products
Shayan Lallani, Doctoral Candidate, University of Ottowa, Department of History: Cultural Globalization in the Caribbean: Dining and the American Middle-Class Turn in Cruise Ship Tourism, 1920-2016
Adam Mack, Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Liberal Arts Department: Limitless: Supermarkets and the Dilemma of Choice
Brent Malin, Faculty, Pittsburgh University, Department of Communications: Ordinary and Necessary: A History of the American Tax Deduction for Advertising
James McElroy, Doctoral Candidate, University of Minnesota, Department of History: Racial Segregation and Market Segregation: The Late-Twentieth Century History of the American City Supermarket, 1960-1990
Emily Morgan, Faculty, Iowa State University, Department of Visual Culture: Imagining Animal Industry: Visualizing the American Meatpacking Trade, 1890-1980
Robert Terrell, Faculty, Syracuse University, Department of History: The People’s Drink: The Politics and Culture of German Beer in the Twentieth Century
Emily Westkaemper, Faculty, James Madison University, Department of History: Career Women: Image and Reality in U.S. Popular Culture, 1940-2000
History of Medicine Collections:
Matthew Barrett, Doctoral Candidate, Queen’s University, History Department: Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Doctor: Medical Attitudes toward Homosexuality and the Court-Martial of Dr. Percy E. Ryberg
Kelly ODonnell, Faculty, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Humanities and Sciences: Study of the role doctors’ wives played in the medical profession, recasting the history of American health care by focusing on the women behind the “great men” of medicine
Laura Smith, Doctoral Candidate, University of Arkansas, History Department: Southern Doctors from Southern Communities: Medical Education and Professionalization in the Nineteenth-Century South
Human Rights Archive (Marshall T. Meyer Research Travel Grants):
Meghan Gibbons, Independent Researcher: Nationalism and Maternal Protest in the US, El Salvador, and Argentina
Gabrielle Girard, Doctoral Candidate, Princeton University, History Department: Modeling Democracy: The Global History of an Argentine Human Rights Experiment, 1978-1991
Michael Jones, Doctoral Candidate, Tulane University, Department of Political Science: Blood & Peace in the Hills of Africa: Post-conflict Institutions in Comparison
Zachary Norman, Faculty, University of Utah, Department of Art & Art History: “Researching Images of Incarceration: Developing Visual Art & Studies Courses to be Taught Inside”
Mira Rai Waits, Faculty, Appalachian State University, Department of Art: Colonial Carcerality: The Birth of the Modern Prison in India
Harry H. Harkins T’73 Travel Grants for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History:
Jonathan Coleman, Independent Researcher: Anywhere, Together: A Queer History of Kentucky
Benjamin Serby, Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University, History Department: Gay Liberation and the Politics of the Self in Postwar America
Photographic Research Grants, Co-Sponsored by the Archive of Documentary Arts and the History of Medicine Collections:
Rachel Fein-Smolinski, Faculty, Syracuse University, Department of Transmedia: “Sex Lives of Animals Without Backbones: A Study of the Aesthetics of Pain and Courage Within the Western Healthcare System”
We look forward to working with you all!
So far this academic year, Rubenstein librarians have taught 132 class sessions (though we won’t finalize these numbers until the end of the spring semester). You’d think that’d be enough to fill our time, but we’ve also been meeting monthly to discuss our individual teaching practices and how to improve our students’ experiences in our class sessions. We want to inspire confident special collections researchers for life!
Through our discussions, we realized that we often returned to couple of key points about archives and primary source research in our class sessions. We’d broach those points on an ad hoc basis as they arose in classes, but we wondered if starting our class sessions off with a shared understanding of those points would be useful, reassuring, and perhaps even empowering for our students.
We’ve followed the development of codes of ethics for different spaces and organizations within (and beyond) our profession and thought that model might also work for us. Early this semester, we drafted and began implementing what we’re calling our approach to classes at the Rubenstein Library. (“Code of ethics” seemed so heady that it might have the unfortunate effect of tamping down student engagement.) Here is what we developed:
Explore and be curious! Our class sessions are interactive, hands-on opportunities to look at lots of materials, so take advantage of this time. Challenge yourself to look (even briefly) at items that don’t initially catch your interest—you might be surprised at what you discover.
Our class sessions seek to be inclusive, offering multiple perspectives, viewpoints, or lived experiences, but may not include the voices of every population for a number of reasons. Let’s talk in class about the voices that aren’t being presented.
The background, experience, and knowledge you bring to this class session are valuable. There isn’t one right interpretation of a historical document. Please listen carefully and treat everyone’s responses respectfully.
The material you encounter in this session has the potential to be uncomfortable or upsetting. Be kind to yourself and recognize your limits. You can look at something else or even step out of the room to take a break.
When working with historical documents, you may encounter racist, oppressive, or outdated language in the documents themselves or in the archival record. When we discuss these items, we will want to use terms that reflect the ways these communities describe themselves today.
Later this month, we’ll come together as a group of instructors to talk about how we’ve been able to incorporate the code into our class sessions—but informal reports suggest it’s been useful! Our practice has generally been to give students two to three minutes to individually read over the code (presented on a slide) and then talk as a class about any questions they might have and how the individual points in the code might come up in the class session.A Rubenstein librarian teaches our new instruction code of ethics in a recent class session.
We see this as a living document that we’ll continue to refine and add to as needed. So please do let us know what you think and feel free to borrow or adapt our instruction code of ethics for your own class sessions!
The post Developing a Code of Ethics for Rubenstein Library Instruction Sessions appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Kasia Stempniak, Graduate Intern, Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History, and Romance Studies PhD student.
Fashion advertising has never shied away from provocative imagery. One of the first clothing brands to consistently court controversy through advertising was the Italian sportswear brand Benetton. A family owned company established in 1965, Benetton became one of the most successful sportswear brands in Europe in the 1980s. That same decade, Benetton decided to enter the United States market and hired J. Walter Thompson (JWT) as their advertising agency to better reach US consumers. JWT would remain with the Italian brand from 1983 to 1992 and the Benetton advertisements in the JWT archives at the Hartman Center offer a unique look into the evolution of advertising conventions in the fashion industry.
With the Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani as the creator of its advertisements, Benetton launched a series of ads in 1983 that were designed to be explicit celebrations of diversity and inclusivity. These ads, like the one seen above that was featured in the magazine Mademoiselle in 1983, were part of a campaign called “All the Colors of the World.” With their messages of global harmony, these ads would take on dozens of different iterations in the next two decades. They became such a staple in Benetton’s marketing repertoire that in the 1990s, the expression “a Benetton ad” was sometimes used to refer to an image with a diverse group of people. Some of these ads tackled politics, like this advertisement diffused during the Cold War in 1986 that featured two athletes, one from the US and one from the USSR, in a friendly pose.
Roughly a decade after the first “All the Colors of the World” world campaign, Benetton released a modified version of these ads. In lieu of a line of smiling faces, however, the ad featured vials of blood labeled with different first names. While still invoking the theme of inclusivity, the ad signaled a change in Benetton’s marketing aesthetic. In the 1990s, Benetton ads seemed to be more focused on shock value than clothing. Many of their most controversial images featured no Benetton clothing. Instead, they depicted a wide range of social and political phenomena, from soldiers in the Bosnian war, to a baby with its umbilical cord attached, to a nun and a priest kissing, to a dying AIDS activist. These advertisements were often met with backlash, calls for a boycott of Benetton goods, and, at times, with censorship. Toscani justified these ads in an interview with The New York Times in 1991, explaining that he saw advertising as both an artistic and political endeavor: “I have found out that advertising is the richest and most powerful medium existing today, so I feel responsible to do more than to say, ‘Our sweater is pretty.’” JWT and Benetton separated in 1992, but Benetton continues to test the limits of public reception with their advertising, despite experiencing a slip in popularity over the past two decades. As recently as 2018, a Benetton ad elicited vociferous criticism from politicians and consumers in Italy and around the world when it repurposed a photograph of migrants being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Benetton ads in the JWT archive shed light on how a fashion company adopted unconventional methods of advertising as a way to connect with a younger generation and bring awareness to social issues. At the same time, reactions to these ads indicate that consumers were uneasy with the confluence of fashion and social commentary. Today, clothing companies are increasingly placing social causes at the center of their ads, like British clothing chain Jigsaw and their 2017 “Love Immigration” campaign. Did Benetton’s advertisements pioneer this modern phenomenon of “brand activism”? Or were Benetton’s ads an example of a company commodifying social causes and taking advantage of the ethically murky waters of fashion advertising?
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2019-2020 travel grants. If you are a researcher, artist, or activist who would like to use sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers for your work, this means you!
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, the History of Medicine Collections, the Human Rights Archive, and the Archive of Documentary Arts, will each award up to $1,500 per recipient ($2,000 for international applicants to the Human Rights Archive) to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein Library also awards up to $1,500 for individuals who would benefit from access to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history collections through the Harry H. Harkins, Jr. T’73 Travel Grant.
The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, North Carolina, and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers listed above.
More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM EST on January 31, 2019. Recipients will be announced in March 2019.
The post Applications Now Accepted for the 2019-2020 Travel Grant Program appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
The Devil’s Tale turns nine today! Since those first blog posts in 2009, our online and social media outreach has grown a bit, to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, but the blog is our first and dearest, and we’ll take any excuse we can get to make cupcakes.
And how could you not be motivated to bake something from this cheery 1978 cookbook from the Nicole Di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks? It reminds me of Rainbow Brite, which was something I was in to when I was probably about nine, so it’s age appropriate.
This little promotional cookbook contains a recipe for Pastel Clouds, cupcakes made from vanilla cake mix and flavored with Jell-O. Which is about all of the cooking energy I can muster on a Sunday afternoon. Here’s the recipe:
I have not visited the Jell-O section of a grocery store in many years and . . . there are so many flavors of Jell-O! I may have gone a little overboard: I got strawberry, raspberry, lemon, and peach and decided I’d make strawberry cupcakes with lemon icing and peach cupcakes with raspberry icing. Which, since I planned to make only one batch of cupcakes, meant dividing lots of things in half, but I managed. And it’s finally October, so I also had a chance to use my spooky Halloween baking cups (which might not fit with the “pastel clouds” vibe, but oh well).
Somewhere along the way in making the cupcakes, I realized things weren’t really developing into one of our normal Test Kitchen posts, with arcane measures and techniques and curious ingredients. Jell-O is still as weird and wiggly as when I was a kid, the strawberry is still the best, and the lemon is still . . . way too reminiscent of school cafeterias. This recipe, while not quite how I’d make cupcakes normally, still holds up forty years later. We’ll see if The Devil’s Tale makes it to that milestone!
Happy birthday, Devil’s Tale and thanks for reading, everyone!
The post A Birthday Rubenstein Library Test Kitchen: Pastel Clouds (1978) appeared first on The Devil's Tale.
Post contributed by Josh Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist for the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.
In 2016, a small group of researchers and project managers descended upon the Rubenstein Library reading room. They were from the company Adam Matthew Digital, a U.K.-based builder of primary source digital databases for use in teaching and research. Over six weeks and three trips, they were firmly ensconced in research in our reading room from when we opened at 9AM—pausing only for meals—until we closed.
They perused hundreds of boxes from the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History’s archives of the J. Walter Thompson Co., an advertising agency founded in New York City in 1864. Considered the most complete record of any existing advertising agency, the archives documents 150 years of the agency’s work with hundreds of business clients, corporate culture, personnel, marketing research, and contributions to the advertising industry. The goal of Adam Matthew’s research was to build a digital database that captured the essence of the agency and its contributions to American consumer culture.Homepage for J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America research database featuring 1972 Kodak ad from the JWT Advertisements Collection.
Thanks to the work of Adam Matthew Digital, Backstage Library Works, our own Digital Collections & Curation Services, and several Duke student assistants, the database is now complete and available to institutions for purchase. Titled J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America, the database includes print advertisements, writings and speeches by JWT staff, company publications, account materials, company newsletters, market research and reports, meeting minutes and much, much more. Together, these materials not only document the story of one of America’s oldest and most enduring advertising agencies, but they also reveal many aspects of 20th century history. Researchers interested in facets of business, social, economic, and cultural history are sure to find the database a rich resource.“Browse by Collection” page for J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America research database.
If you are interested in purchasing the database for your own institution, inquiries can be sent to Adam Matthew Digital website here. The database is free to Duke students, faculty, and staff in the Libraries’ collection of resource databases here.
Post contributed by Claire Payton, Ph. D, Intern for John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
This is a watershed era for women in the military. In January 2017, women joined combat units for the first time. Another milestone was passed later that year, when a woman completed a punishing thirteen-week officer training program. Thirty-six women have attempted the course but until last September, none had succeeded. Marine Corp is recalibrating its tests of physical strength to be more equal between men and women.Recrutiment ad for the USMC, 2016
Walter Thompson (JWT) has been part of the larger conversation about gender integration of the force. The marketing firm, which has worked with the Marine Corps since 1947, took on the issue in a 2016 advertising campaign by prominently featuring images of servicewomen in action. A striking 2017 television ad, offering a sweeping depiction of the Corps’ history, included the contributions of servicewomen.
But JWT marketing materials from a few decades ago indicate how far the company—and society at large—has come with regards to gender equality in the military. In the Hartman Center’s JWT Review Board Records collection, there is a 1963 brochure inviting women to join to the USMC. Unlike the contemporaneous material targeted at men, which emphasized building physical strength and personal integrity, this brochure revolved around the outfits female marines would wear in different circumstances.
Colorful illustrations featured slender women in different settings, annotated with sartorial encouragement. “You’re never smarter than in Marine Winter ‘Greens,’” promised one passage. “This is the Marine Corps’ version of that oh-so-chic tailored look.” Another passage asked, “What could be more flattering…and, more fashionable… than pure white. The perfectly tailored Officer’s Dress Whites show the sure touch of a master designer, Mainboucher’.”1963 recruitment brochure from the JWT Review Board Records collection
Despite this limited vision of what might attract women to the Marine Corps, in the 1960s servicewomen made important strides. In 1964, there were 1,281 women in the Marine Corps, serving in diverse fields such as intelligence, operational communications, transportation, legal, avionics, aerology, and aviation operations. Regulation changes in 1965-1966 made it easier for women to stay enlisted after marriage, which lengthened women’s careers and gave more opportunities for advancement. In 1963, the first woman attended Amphibious Warfare School; in 1966 the first women arrived for active duty in Pacific overseas bases, including Vietnam.1963 recruitment brochure from the JWT Review Board Records collection
The 1963 pamphlet conveyed stereotypes of women as passive and feminine, more concerned about their appearance than their jobs. Nonetheless, the JWT marketing campaign in the 1960s contributed to growing numbers of women in the Corps, many of whom broke boundaries and redefined norms. JWT’s most recent advertisements help to normalize the image of military women active both in and out of combat. This is an important transformation, since women’s abilities and the meaning of their bodies are still highly contested.
Stremlow, Mary V., and USMCR. A History of the Women Marines, 1946-1977. History and Museums Division Headquarters, Washington DC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
Post contributed by Claire Payton, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History intern and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History
At the end of World War II, the meaning of family changed in profound ways. In Europe and North America, young couples set about starting new families. Their enthusiasm for procreation generated the demographic explosion known as the “baby boom.” Those who could afford it filled their homes with refrigerators, television sets, and baby toys, midwifing another major post-war transformation: the rise of consumerism.
Riding these twin dynamics, an upstart Parisian advertising firm was able to build up a small French company into a famous international brand. Publicis was a small ad firm founded in 1926 by Marcel Blustein-Blanchet, the son of Jewish immigrants. Blustein-Blanchet managed to flee when the Nazis occupied France in 1940. Publicis was shuttered and the office and equipment were seized by the government. But when the war ended he returned and, in 1946, reopened Publicis. One of the first new clients he signed while rebuilding from scratch was a small new company that specialized in maternity clothes called Prénatal.
Founded by Jean-Maire Mazart in 1947, Prénatal seized upon the social transformations of the era. With the help of Publicis, the company targeted young pregnant women who were looking to overcome the war through the power of consumerism. Mazart’s idea, inspired by the United States, was to provide women with high-end clothes in different sizes depending on how far along they were in their pregnancy. The idea was an immediate hit in France, and Prénatal expanded quickly. It diversified its products to include baby items so that loyal clients could continue to have things to buy things even after pregnancy was over and motherhood began. Within two decades, there were two hundred Prénatal storefronts in France, with more around Europe and overseas.
One of the ways Publicis drummed up excitement for its clients was to design large displays at major marketing events. These photos show its Prénatal installation at a 1950s Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) which was held in the luminous Parisian marketplace, Les Halles. The photos are part of a new acquisition at the Hartman Center, a Collection of French Advertising Display Binders that feature photos of Publicis advertisements, installations, and displays from the 1950s. The Publicis-Prénatal strategy is evident in the slogan painted on the walls: “Tout pour la future maman…Tout pour le nouveau ne” (Everything for the mom-to-be…Everything for the newborn). The design of the Prénatal display showcased the message that ideal mid-century motherhood–glamorous, clean, elegant–was available with the signing of a check.
By the late 1960s, the message pedaled by Prénatal and Publicis had lost some of its charm. The very people who might have worn Prénatal clothes as infants grew up to challenge post-war ideas of consumerism and the heteronormative nuclear family that the company’s products celebrated. With the increasing availability of contraceptives in the late 1960s, women could aspire to more than a fashionable and well-heeled pregnancy. Mazart sold the company in 1972; it closed its last doors in 1997. More able than its client to adapt to changing cultural norms, Publicis today is one of the world’s leading multinational advertising and public relations agencies.
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Post contributed by Claire Payton, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History intern and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History
Just in time for the holiday season, the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in the David M. Rubenstein Library has acquired a copy of the 1939 booklet that introduced Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the world.
Rudolph was invented by a Robert L. May, a 35-year old copywriter, for a promotional campaign at the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago. May was inspired to pen the story of the humble, resilient, reindeer to cheer his daughter Barbara, whose mother was dying from cancer. Drawing from the “Ugly Duckling” story and his own memories of being ostracized as a child, May wrote a tale of an odd-looking deer whose unusual bright-red nose saves the day after Santa asks him to light the way on a particularly cloudy and foggy Christmas Eve. In the end, Rudolph is feted and admired by reindeer-peers who previously had bullied him. May collaborated with Denver Gillen, a colleague from Montgomery Ward’s art department, to create drawings to accompany the story. Their booklet, which first appeared in November 1939, became a hit, with nearly 2.5 million copies printed and distributed.
Production of the pamphlet ceased during WWII. Montgomery Ward resumed the marketing campaign in 1946, printing another 3.6 million copies. But in January 1947, for reasons that remain unclear, department story executives turned over copyright on the Rudolph story to May. This was a boon to the May family, which was reeling from medical bills accrued during the illness and death of May’s wife.
Luckily, the delightful story continued to enchant. In 1948, Rudolph became the hero of a short animated Christmas film. The following year, May’s brother-in-law, a songwriter named Johnny Marks, composed a jingle based on the reindeer’s adventure. The song was picked up by country-singer Gene Autry, whose version would become a smash-hit, selling more than 25 million copies worldwide. This song became the basis of a 1964 stop-motion animated film by Rankin/ Bass Productions based on Rudolph’s story. The film became a classic holiday special that continues to air today. Rudolph not only saved Christmas, he also saved the May family from bankruptcy.
This unassuming 78-year-old booklet introduced an unlikely hero who transformed the life of an Illinois family and the culture of Christmas around the world.
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Post contributed by Claire Payton, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History intern and Ph.D. candidate, Duke University Department of History
It was 1967, and people weren’t drinking Seven-Up. Well, a few were: consumers mostly thought of the bubbly beverage as a mixer or a tonic to calm an upset stomach. But executives at the St. Louis-based Seven-Up Company were anxious to tap into a wider market. The company wanted to rebrand its product as a common soft-drink like the more well-known cola beverages, Pepsi or Coca-Cola. It enlisted a marketing team from the Chicago office of the J. Walter Thompson ad agency to help them. Out of this collaboration came one of the most famous advertising campaigns of the 20th century.
The late 1960s were a difficult time in America. The Vietnam War and the fight for civil rights divided the country. Disillusioned young people were building a robust oppositional counter-culture that rejected war, racial segregation, and violence. The summer of 1967 became known as the “Summer of Love,” a period when hippies gathered in San Francisco and cities around the country in the hopes of igniting “a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.”
Seizing on this oppositional energy, the JWT team designed a campaign that framed 7-Up as the ultimate oppositional drink: the “Uncola.” Rather than trying to play up the similarities the soda shared with its competitors, the new ads focused on its differences. In the company newsletter, the team explained “Seven-Up advertising tells people that, of the three top-selling soft drink brands, 7-Up, the Uncola, is the only one with distinctly different qualities.”
The “Uncola” struck a chord with the younger generation as the first ads appeared in 1968. They focused on puns based around “un” part of the new slogan. By portraying Coke and Pepsi as “the Establishment,” JWT effectively situated 7-Up as an alternative brand for alternative people.
The following year JWT created a contest inviting artists to submit wildly imaginative designs for 7-Up ads. The submissions were presented to the client, who chose the final images. The winner received a $2000 reward and the opportunity to work with JWT to make final versions. From this contest, JWT and the Seven-Up company built a campaign of colorful road-side billboards with psychedelic graphics. Art by young graphic designers including Pat Dypold, Ed Georges, and Milton Glaser dotted highways across the country in 1969.
A 1973 article from Southern Advertising described the success of the billboard campaign: “To zero in on the college and younger age groups, [Seven-Up executive] Roesch has developed a different approach to the use of the outdoor medium. The agency’s media department uses outdoor as a means of zeroing in on a specific target . . . instead of as a mass media that doesn’t discriminate. The boards are located accordingly, and the art used is slated to the specific likes of the age groups. The result has been demand for Seven-Up posters to be used as room decorations, party decorations, all without any promotion by the company.”
The campaign complemented its print ads and billboards with television spots. The most memorable ads from this campaign featured Trinidadian dancer and actor Geoffrey Holder explaining the difference between ugly, dry, kola nuts and the tangy, juicy lemon and limes that flavor 7-Up. The ad broke racial barriers within the Seven-Up Company, which until then had never used black actors in its television ads.
The Uncola campaign continued into the 1970s. As times changed, the campaign tried to stay in dialog with oppositional culture by incorporating new visual mediums such as grafitti. JWT argued that “In 1968, the rebellious approach of youth was a workable parallel for the rebellious approach of Seven-Up. Today, in the Seventies, the attack remains viable.” However, 7-Up’s hard-won market share declined over the course of the decade, losing ground to the growing popularity of another lemon-lime soda, Sprite.
Perhaps the soda became a victim of its own success. The Uncola campaign had so effectively linked to the youth of the 1960s that by the 1990s, it was considered ”what old people drink,” in the words of one financial analyst, “and that’s not what you want in a soft drink.” In 1998, the company finally dropped the Uncola slogan and reinvented its formula. Since then the company has since tried several different campaigns to redefine its identity without success. Regardless, the Uncola campaign will remain a mainstay of the consumer culture of 20th century America and a sign of the times in which it was created.
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Post contributed by Cameron Byerly, a rising junior at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He helped process the Paula Green papers through St. John’s Hodson Internship Program during Summer 2017.Photograph of Paula Green from the Paula Green papers at the Rubenstein Library.
It’s not the size of the budget
It’s the ferocity of the idea
Paula Green’s papers amounted to nearly 100 boxes of print documents, photographs and audiovisual materials, which is intimidating for a first archival processing project.
My relief was immediate when I discovered these boxes contained dozens of awards, fascinating drafts and edits to ads, pleasant correspondence, articles explaining an honest and steadfast worldview, and above all, a character who I came to deeply respect the voice and intents of through a long and successful career.Union Label song created by Paula Green and Malcolm Dodds in 1975 for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
The central theme I would use to describe Paula Green’s work is ‘cause-driven’. Paula’s speeches and correspondence make it clear she chose clients she personally believed in, including the local jobs offered by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), and the work she did to fight breast cancer with the U.S. government’s Public Health Service and the American Cancer Society. Perhaps her largest success was her part in creating the “Look for the Union Label” song for the ILGWU in the 70’s. The song’s importance became more tangible to me when reading President Jimmy Carter’s quote “Sometimes I have a hard time deciding which I like best, ‘Hail to the Chief’ or ‘Look for the Union Label,’” and the subsequent parodies from newspaper comics, South Park and Saturday Night Live. The song represented an enormous collective effort of the American fight for local jobs. As I pieced together Paula’s insistence on visiting local factories, employing real workers for TV spots, and saying “please buy from us” rather than “don’t buy from foreigners,” I realized that she applied her own moral standard to the work she believed in.Paula Green created the now famous “We Try Harder” campaign for Avis in 1962.
The second notable theme in Paula Green’s work is intelligence. Her early success at Doyle Dane Bernbach with the ‘We’re No. 2’ advertising campaign for Avis car rental allowed her the economic power to create her own advertising agency in 1975, and demonstrated her intelligence in engaging with the audience. I consider how well her methods would work in today’s more image-driven and crowded advertising landscape. Records of her work include hundreds of edits of reasoned arguments and recipes used to include in her marketing of food products. She often argued against a more deceptive world of associating lifestyles with products, and instead cleanly focused on the merits of her products. Her copywriting involved well-written sentences to back up her buzz-words and intelligent methodology in expressing her ideas.A cookbook as part of an advertising campaign created by Paula Green for Goya in the 1980s.
Paula Green had many clients like Subaru and Goya food, and she played an integral role in helping their products hit mainstream American audiences. She was an agency-leading woman in an industry dominated by men, and was even an invited guest at the White House for Jimmy Carter’s executive order to help female-run businesses. Her “Don’t be afraid, it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you” campaign for the American Cancer Society encouraged women to conduct breast self-examinations at a time when regulations made it difficult to even correctly describe the process. Paula Green’s influence was felt by nearly every media-consuming adult in America during her work years, and continues to resonate today.
I enjoyed the process of sorting through her life’s work and making an organized whole collection. The collection demonstrates what an ad agency does, how Paula Green employed intelligence and morality into her work, and what it means to say a large amount in few words, from correspondence to new clients to her famous ads.Paula Green began working with the American Cancer society in 1969 to create breast cancer self-examination ads.
Paula Green’s papers are held at the David M. Rubenstein Library as part of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, & Marketing History.
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Post contributed by Sierra Moore, Library Assistant for Research Services
Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Time: 1:30-3:30 PM
Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room
Contact: Rubenstein Library front desk, 919-660-5822
As all Hallows’ Eve draws near there are a multitude of reasons why you might traipse through all places dark, gloomy, and strange. Here at the Rubenstein Library your travels will be far less perilous. Nonetheless, we have compiled samples from collections containing chilling texts and photographs certain to both entertain, enchant, and imbibe the type of intrigue you seek. Here is a brief preview of what we have in store:
An early version of our very own Blue Devil mascot lingers before the Chapel.
A copy of Stephen King’s IT, ca. 1986.
From our Postcard Collection, a selection of Halloween postcards.
Black and white images of puppets from Puppets and the Puppet Theater.
Please join us on Tuesday, October 31st from 1:30-3:30 PM for a most festive open house certain to rouse the spirits!
Post contributed by Jessica Chen. Jessica is a Duke undergraduate and was a participant in the Story+ program during Summer 2017.
This summer marked the first incarnation of Story+, a program for humanities research and dynamic storytelling sponsored by Duke University’s Franklin Humanities Institute. Each project team consisted of a few Duke undergraduates, one graduate student mentor, and a “client” such as the NC Justice Center, the Duke Classics Lab, and the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. As an art history major interested in archival work, I applied (and was hired) for a position with the Hartman Center’s “Race and Ethnicity in Advertising” project. The other students on the project included Lizzie Butcher, Cyan DeVeaux and our mentor, Meghan O’Neil.Perfume advertisement from the Jean Kilbourne Papers.
Our assignment was to create a digital resource for students and researchers that would serve as a portal for the Hartman Center’s resources related to underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the United States. At first I wasn’t sure what ‘humanities research’ really entailed. I also didn’t know what the Hartman Center was, and I was confused as to why the Rubenstein Library wasn’t a normal, circulating library. Luckily, Hartman Center staff gave us an overview of the Center’s collections and the process of requesting and reserving materials for research. In the reading room, we looked at collections that featured different perspectives in the advertising industry: personal and professional documents of people of color who worked in advertising, marketing research reports analyzing and interpreting minority groups as consumer segments, and depictions of race and ethnicity in print advertising. We met with Hartman Center staff to present both our research findings and our website design ideas. We also were trained in how to build a website using Omeka.
Besides links to the various pertinent collections and a gallery of images, our website includes exhibits that each of us created with material from the Hartman Center, allowing us to pursue our individual interests in more depth. Our exhibits varied widely in topic. Lizzie Butcher’s exhibit described the “Black is Beautiful” movement in the 1960s and its effect on print advertisements, while Cyan DeVeaux’s exhibit depicted the development of professionals of color working in advertising. My exhibit, which illustrated the evolution of marketing research focused on minorities, taught me how to piece a narrative together by showcasing items from the Hartman Center’s collections and incorporating secondary sources to provide the historical context.
Through the Story+ program and this project, I learned how to conduct archival research, work in a highly interdisciplinary team, and create a website with assorted features – skills I had always wanted to develop, but didn’t have the opportunity to do so before this summer. I look forward to doing more humanities research in the future and spending more time in the Rubenstein Library, as well!
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Post contributed by Jacqueline Reid Wachholz, Director, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
In response to the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century, many advertisers began to see the African American market in a new, and profitable, light. Advertising campaigns were developed over the next few decades celebrating African and African American heritage as a method of advertising products to this demographic. The Rubenstein Library’s Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History and John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture jointly acquired this collection of 48 items showcasing black Americans through advertisements and political campaigns aimed at African Americans from the 1970s through the 1990s. Collected by a former public relations associated with the NAACP, this collection represents some NAACP marketing work and advertising images depicting notable African Americans and significant moments in African American history. These posters include biographical sketches of African American writers, scientists, professional athletes, soldiers, civil rights workers, entertainers, and other historical figures. Included are also a number of posters produced by and for the NAACP that the organization’s campaigns to reduce poverty and school dropout rates and increase voter registration and membership in the NAACP. Notable advertising campaigns include Budweiser’s “Great Kings of Africa” Series, Pepsi Cola’s “The Black Presence” Series, and the CIBA-GEIGY Corporation’s “Exceptional Black Scientists” Series.
Great Kings of Africa. A marketing campaign started in 1975 by the Anheuser-Busch Corporation designed to appeal to an African American audience while at the same time promoting African History. During its over 25-year campaign and with a total of 30 different images, it has been either celebrated as a means of showcasing and promoting African history or criticized for, as Rev Michael Pfleger of South Side Chicago’s St. Sabina Catholic Church puts it “one more attempt by the alcohol and tobacco industries to buy a reputation in the African-American community.” The campaign consisted of a series of paintings done by African-American artists commissioned by Anheuser-Busch that were accompanied by a short history of the subject being portrayed
Exceptional Black Scientists, CIBA-GEIGY, 1980-1984: These posters are meant to celebrate current scientific leaders of African American descent and inspire minority students to pursue careers in science. Each individual selected had recently made a substantial scientific discovery in their respective field. The posters are derived from portraits done by noted black artist and illustrator Ernest Chrichlow. This series was advertised directly to teachers, and was meant to be placed in the classroom, science fairs, or community centers.
Black Presences, PepsiCo, circa 1980s: A series of posters, that celebrated the African American ‘presence’ in America’s history and culture. Each poster features a portrait of the individual selected, a short biography, and is entitled by the category of culture (arts, sports, history, etc.) that the individual belongs to.
These posters are available to researchers in the Rubenstein Library.
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Post contributed by Ashley Rose Young, a Ph.D. candidate in History at Duke University and the Business History Graduate Intern at the Hartman Center.
Brimming with wanderlust, Lillian Boxfish traveled to Manhattan to start her career as a “daring and unmarried” woman in 1926. And so opens the first chapter of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.
This fascinating premise is inspired by the life of Margaret Fishback, a poet and pioneer in the advertising industry whose papers are part of the Hartman Center Collections. Kathleen Rooney, the author, uncovered the intriguing history of Fishback in the spring of 2007. With the support of a Hartman Center travel grant, Rooney looked through hundreds of documents, piecing together Fishback’s life story. Fishback was raised in Washington D.C., earned her bachelors from Goucher College in 1921, and became a divisional copywriter for Macy’s in 1926. She was immensely successful and employed her playful and witty language in diverse advertising campaigns. Her early career success was recognized by local newspapers, one of them describing her as “the highest paid advertising woman in the world.” She went on to work at several other advertising agencies including Cecil & Presbrey, Warwick & Legler, Young & Rubicam, and Doyle Dane Bernbach whose clients ranged from Chef-Boyardee to Simmons Beauty Rest. All the while, she built her poetry career, publishing several books, the most widely received One to a Customer: Collected Poems of Margaret Fishback (1947).Margaret Fishback during her time at Doyle Dane Bernbach, c. 1950-1964, photograph by G. Maillard Kesslere, Margaret Fishback Papers, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Inspired by the remarkable career of Margaret Fishback, the story of Lillian Boxfish provides a mesmerizing glimpse into the personal life and inner most thoughts of a career-oriented, gregarious woman living and working in one of America’s most dynamic cities. The main character is an octogenarian residing in Murray Hill. She has an effortless routine, stopping by local establishments and regularly visiting old friends in the neighborhood. Rooney plays with time like she plays with language, seamlessly weaving flashbacks of Lillian’s young adult life in New York with the octogenarian’s meanderings.
Early on, we learn that Lillian grew up in Washington D.C. in a family that valued poise and polish over her natural adventurousness and inquisitive mind. Her mother strongly disapproved of these latter characteristics, hoping that Lillian would marry and pursue the domestic arts with great fervor. Instead, Lillian modeled her dreams after the life of her unconventional aunt, Sadie Boxfish. It was her aunt who introduced Lillian to poetry, which became one of her passions, through a series of postcards written about a fictional adventurist named Phoebe Snow.
Lillian’s mother seethed with disapproval whenever a new postcard arrived, painted with vibrant, playful words.
Miss Phoebe Snow has stopped to show
Her ticket at the gate, you know.
The Guard, polite, declares it right.
Of course—it’s Road of Anthracite
As Lillian recalls, “In [my mother’s] contralto above my ear I could hear, in her neat bosom behind my head I could feel, her disapproval: not of Phoebe, but of Sadie.” Although strong, her mother’s opinions were not strong enough to keep Lillian in D.C. and so the novel recounts a young woman’s quest of self discovery and professional success at a time when the diadem of the Chrysler Building first sparkled on the New York skyline.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a refreshing and poetic novel. The prose is captivating, the characters are compelling, and the topics are relevant, ranging from discussion over equal pay to sexual liberation. A thrillingly progressive character for her time, Lillian Boxfish is delightfully portrayed in this historically-inspired novel by Kathleen Rooney. As the academic years comes to a close, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk should make your short list for summer reading.
Post contributed by Erin Ryan, Drill Intern for the Duke University Archives.
When I first signed up to do a Rubenstein Test Kitchen blog post, my plan was to do something from an early-to-mid 20th-century vegetarian cookbook in our collections. I’ve been a vegetarian since the mid-’90s.
But then, as I was browsing our library catalog, I came across 401 Party and Holiday Ideas from ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America, 1971) in our Nicole Di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks. I was intrigued; my grandfather—my dad’s father—worked for ALCOA for about 35 years, until his retirement in the early ’80s.
Pretty soon, I was hooked.
This amazing book features the creations of one Conny von Hagen, who worked as a designer for ALCOA, still one of the largest producers of aluminum.
Conny was also behind 1959’s Alcoa’s Book Of Decorations: A Year-Round Treasury of Easy-to-do Decorations for Holidays and Special Occasions. According to the timeline on their website, ALCOA introduced aluminum foil to the U.S. in 1910—you can see some “Alcoa Wrap” next to Conny in the picture below. This introductory page also explains that her designs appeared on TV, in newspapers and in magazines.
401 Party and Holiday Ideas from ALCOA has ideas for 24 separate occasions, from Christmas and Hanukkah to “Teen-Age Party” and Election Day.
For this post, I decided to make (1) a food recipe; (2) a foil creation.
The food: Kerry Cake
I made Irish Apple Cake, or Kerry Cake, from the “Saint Patrick’s Day” chapter of 401 Party and Holiday Ideas. Criteria: It had to be vegetarian, and it had to be easy (I was pressed for time). I also wanted to serve it at my Easter family gathering. I didn’t like any of the Easter recipes, though. So a quick look through the rest of the book, and I settled on this:
My ancestry is mostly Irish, but I did not know anything about Kerry Cake until I read here that it is a traditional Irish apple bread that was baked in an iron cooking pot called a bastible, hung over the fire.
But this 1971 recipe just called for an 8-inch cake pan in a regular oven, and that’s what I used. I was making this in my mom’s kitchen, so I got to use the sifter that had belonged to her mom. Mom told me we had relatives from County Kerry, too.
I’m a pretty laissez-faire cook, in general. So I didn’t mind that the recipe didn’t specify what kind of apples to use, how big to cut the pieces, etc. I went for Granny Smith. They were pretty huge apples, so Mom and I decided I should just use two, to equal the “three medium” the recipe called for.
In all, it took me about 50 minutes to grate the lemon rind, cut up the apple, and put the batter together. I greased the pan with butter, baked it exactly according to instructions (30 minutes at 375), and it came out perfectly.
I whipped some heavy cream and served this cake at our Easter dinner. I was afraid it would be bland without spices, or that the lemon would taste strange. But it was delicious. Moist, not too sweet, and the lemon was exactly the right amount to accentuate the apples and butter. There were six adults at dinner, including a guest from Colombia, and everybody loved the Kerry Cake. Almost the whole cake was gone by the end of the night.
The foil creation: Sadie Seal
So many ideas here! It was tough to choose, but I settled on Sadie Seal, one of the circus animals on offer in the Kids’ Korner section.
In her introduction, Conny said to use things that were lying around the house to construct our decorations, so I rounded up a bunch of felt, foam balls, pompoms, and other supplies I had left over from a Halloween costume I never made. I already had a roll of heavy-duty foil in my cabinet. The instructions were not very detailed, as you can see from the photos below, but I did my best.
Making the “mouth” was not easy. Once I cut off the extra foil, I was left with a hard, solid lump of metal that was sharp and nearly impossible to shape.
No guidance either on how to make the flippers. My first attempt gave her absurdly long arms; then I shortened them so much they didn’t touch the floor; and then went with my imperfect third try. I pinned the flippers on the body, cut some eyes out of black felt and pinned those on too. I couldn’t find any ribbon for her neck … so … voila!
I was disappointed at first. It took me about 40 minutes to make this odd little bird-like creature and she didn’t look like the picture at all. But … I took her home on Easter weekend to show her to my gathered family. Once she had ridden with me in the car for 2.5 hours, looking at me with her little felt eyes, I felt like we’d bonded. Plus, everybody thought she was cute. (Mom thought she looked like a turtle.)
*I promise: all extra foil scraps from this project were duly recycled! But I’m not recycling Sadie any time soon. I’m pretty fond of her now. She’s staying on my desk.
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