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Resources Guide

Bax, Christina E.. “Entrepreneur Brownie Wise: Selling Tupperware to America’s Women in the 1950s.” Journal of Women’s History 22 (2010), 171-180.

Though this exhibit does not focus on Tupperware advertisements specifically, Bax’s article was useful for its analysis of the motivations that compelled housewives in the 1950s to purchase products for their homes. Bax examines the way that the purchase of home goods enabled women to achieve a sense of self realization as they continually worked to fill their homes with products that would improve the lives of their families. She focuses on this phenomenon within the context of the restrictive gender roles, increased consumerism and suburbanization of the 1950s.


Craft, Kevin. “Why Does Everyone on ‘Mad Men’ Call Don Draper a Creative Genius?” The Atlantic, March 19, 2012. Accessed November 26, 2014. entertainment/archive/2012/03/why-does-everyone-on-mad-men-call-don-draper-a-creative-genius/254699/.

Craft’s article acted as a supplement to my scholarly research, giving a journalistic contextualization of Mad Men within the context of advertising history. He questions the show’s premise that Don is an amazingly creative advertiser, and uses his question to write about real-world advertisers of the period whom he feels far surpass Don in their innovation, including Doyle Dane Bernbach. The article helps to further contextualize the advertisements in this exhibit.


Cohen, Lizabeth. A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Press, 2003.  

Cohen’s book formed the basis of my research on the broader consumerist culture in which the advertisements in the exhibit were created. Cohen’s work sets out to explain the consumerist culture of 1950s America as a confluence of many factors including pent-up wartime desires, a booming post-was economy, growing families, suburbanization, federal policies like the G.I. Bill, and a growing sense that a healthy, consumerist economy could act as one of the most effective Cold War weapons.


Fox, Stephen. The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and its Creators. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984.

Fox’s book seeks to fill a dearth in 20th century historiography by providing a comprehensive history of advertising; a subject that he believes has thus far been neglected because of the disposable place advertisements have come to occupy in our society. He focuses on histories of the advertising agencies themselves, and provides particularly useful chapters on the stagnation of creativity in the large Madison Avenue firms in the 1950s and the dawn of the creative revolution through DDB in the 1960s.


Gold, Philip. Advertising, Politics, and American Culture: From Salesmanship to Therapy. New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1987.

Gold’s book, rather than focusing on a simple history of advertising, explores how advertising as a discourse as affected and been affected by American civilization. He argues that advertising in the 1950s and 1960s developed through three important trends: increased volume, increased use of psychological techniques, and the belief that the post-war period would be one of uninterrupted peace and prosperity. He argues that the dynamics of this period shaped the advertising industry and that in turn, advertising affected an entire generation of Americans in a way that it never had before, revealing deep tensions between consumerism and a search for individuality.


Griffith, Robert. “The Selling of America: The Advertising Council and American Politics, 1942-1960.” The Business History Review 57 (1983), 388-412.

Griffith’s article offers an examination of the Advertising Council, a inter-agency body of  ad men from across the country, and how its cooperation and collaboration with the federal government indicates the relationship between businesses, advertising, and government in the 1950s. His article argues that the advertising industry recognized an opportunity to work with businesses and the government to secure a stable place for big business and a consumerist economy in post-war American society, achieved through campaigns designed to espouse the virtues of such an arrangement. 


Samuel, Lawrence R.. “Thinking Smaller: Bill Bernbach and the Creative Revolution in Advertising of the 1950s.” Advertising & Society Review 13 (2012). Project MUSE. Web. November 6, 2014. society_review/v013/13.3.samuel.html. 

Samuel’s article provides a thorough evaluation of Bill Bernbach and his indelible effect on Doyle Dane Bernbach and the advertising industry as a whole. The article critically analyzes how Bernbach’s personal life affected his creative work and evaluates some of his most successful campaigns. It also argues for how his unconventional approach to advertising impacted not just the campaigns themselves, but helped shape Doyle Dane Bernbach into a truly unique advertising agency that succeeded in completely altering the way ad men and consumers thought about advertising.


Sivulka, Juliann. “Fabulous Fifties: Selling Mr. and Mrs. Consumer.” Advertising & Society Review 9 (2008). Project MUSE. Web. November 6, 2014.

Sivulka’s article offers a look at the specific role that women played in the advertising industry, both as ad ‘men’ and as consumers. She examines the way that male advertisers recognized the value in using women copywriters to sell feminine products to women, and how these women operated in a male dominated world. She argues that these women simultaneously empowered and restricted women consumers by relying on traditional gender roles to compel women to provide for themselves and their families in meaningful ways. 


Twitchwell, James B.. 20 Ads That Shook the World: The Century’s Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How it Changed Us All.New York: Crown Publishers, 2000. 

Twitchwell’s book also seeks to fill a gap in what he believes is a lack of scholarship on the history of advertising and its important affects on American society. He focuses on 20 ad campaigns that he believes are the most significant of the 20th century, basing his evaluations on the innovativeness of the campaign and the effects they had on American advertising and culture.


Viser, Victor J.. “Winning the Peace: American Planning for a Profitable Post-War World.” Journal of American Studies 35 (2001), 111-126.

Viser’s article focuses on the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the efforts of the advertising industry to promote the booming economy of the post-war period. He especially focuses the unique socioeconomic factors of the 1950s—government planning, growing families, increased purchasing power, increased advertising volume, magazines—that enabled advertising agencies to indoctrinate American consumers in the value of a consumer-based economy and culture.


Wolff, Janet L.. What Makes Women Buy: A Guide to Understanding and Influencing the New Woman of Today. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1958.

As a primary source of sorts, Wolff’s book offers an interesting look into the mentality behind advertising to women in the 1950s. Written by a women for ad men, Wolff’s book outlines what she deems to be a comprehensive guide to marketing to women, using an analysis of women’s emotions, desires, and goals to explain women’s economic motivations. This source provides an opportunity to understand how women consumers understood their place in society in the post-war period.


Young & Rubicam. “Y&R History: A Look at the Early Years…And Beyond.” Accessed   November 27, 2014.…and-beyond.

Though Y&R was one of the most successful advertising agencies of this period, information on the agency’s specific history proved difficult to find. The company’s website included a page on the brief history of the agency, which was useful in providing information on its growth and development through its prolific years in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Resources Guide