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The Richmond Collegian, the student newspaper from the University of Richmond, provides a unique opportunity to look at state of the art advertising from the major tobacco companies of the period. The advertising was likely influenced by the groundbreaking work of Edward Bernays who published Propaganda in 1928. Here’s an excellent BBC documentary called The Century of the Self which looks at the significant influence Bernays exerted in the fields of advertising and public relations.
The Collegian is unique in my experience for it’s large, half page and 3/4 page size, tobacco advertisements. No other businesses took out so many advertisements nor on such a grand scale. As I was taking photos for this blog, I realized this should be a series of blog posts to do justice to the subject. I was surprised to realize that the advertisements were elaborate campaigns, series of related ads that followed a theme. It is easy to imagine a Madison Avenue advertising agency pitching these campaigns to tobacco company marketers and management.
|From Early Years of Cigarette Advertising in the 1930s|
From Richmond Collegian, Dec. 2, 1921. This early tobacco ad is typical of early twentieth century advertisements. There are no deep psychological appeals. The message is simply, we have a good cigarette, you should buy it. The advertisement also included the retail price which later ads did not include
Part 1 : Cellophane and Celebrities
The cellophane wrapper to help keep cigarettes fresh was introduced in the early 1930s. Both Camel and Lucky Strike boasted of their new cellophane wrappers, both companies referred to the wrapper as a “humidor pack.”
|From Early Years of Cigarette Advertising in the 1930s|
A common feature in old newspapers was the short article. The sort of thing that was likely passed around from newspaper to newspaper in order to fill their columns — often unattributed, undocumented, and possibly not even true but this is the stuff of legends. A common subject of these short articles was the humor of Abraham Lincoln. The articles were usually singular stories of an incident and Lincoln’s response to the situation. Here is a collection of such articles to entertain and enlighten you to the character and humor of our 16th President.
In our collection we have an unusual one-off edition of The Progressive Richmonder from June, 1950 that was circulated to promote support for the construction of a downtown expressway. The paper was produced by a group identified as the Forward Richmond Highway Committee.
The object of the paper was to convince readers to support a referendum to be held at a Special Election on Tuesday June 13, 1950. The referendum did not propose a specific route for an expressway but was used as a gauge of the public’s support for the idea. The project’s total estimated cost was $29 million. Richmond’s contribution would be about $8 million dollars, with the Commonwealth contributing another $8 million and the Federal Government contributing $13 million.
The reasons given to support the expressway included that it would relieve existing traffic congestion, increase safety, faster travel for Richmonders, economic development (though the phrase did not yet exist, a proponent explained, “Everyone, motorists and all, stands to benefit financially in the long-range expressway planning.”), and scenery, “Landscaping that accompanies the construction of expressways and the building of parkways will add to the city’s beauty.”
Another argument used was that other cities had expressways in their downtown areas. An article cited examples in Detroit, Michigan, Sacramento, California, Houston and Dallas, Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut. It also stated a number of other localities were presently in the process of building expressways, the cities included Boston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
Alternative solutions and complaints by the opposition are briefly mentioned and dismissed. “We are told that the expressway would be an unsightly ditch. But the engineers say that it will be a handsome roadway, mostly at natural ground level, but if below ground … read more »
A perennial subject for newspapers is snow storms. In Richmond, forecasters are calling for 4 – 8 inches on Wednesday and Thursday. The debilitating effects of snow are much the same today as they were 75 years ago. Here are a couple of samples from historic snowfalls in Richmond, Virginia from January 24, 1940 and February 8, 1936.
As we all know, today’s storms are nothing compared with the blizzards of yesteryear. That’s as true today as it was in 1936 and here’s proof.
From the Times Dispatch, Nov. 14, 1913
An advertisement at the bottom of page one says, “Shop Now — There are only 35 more shopping days before Christmas.” Some things never change.
Great Lakes blizzard killed 167 and destroy 10 ships.
Lack of Tiller of Soil Given as Reason for Present High Cost of Living
“Professor Kennedy stated that since 1800 cities and towns had gained three inhabitants to the rural districts’ one. Ninety per cent of the population in 1800 was farmers, as against 33 per cent to-day.” Compare with today, farmers represent just 2 percent of the U.S. population.
Senator Asks Investigation of Telephone Company
Senator Norris, of Nebraska, suspected a violation of the Sherman antitrust act.
“ ‘The local phone company is doing business under a charter granted in New York,’ said Norris. ‘It’s stock is owned by another corporation, whose stock in turn is owned by still another corporation. Then, too, the Chesapeake owns the stock of several other companies. It is a perfect mass of corporations.’ ”
Several rail accidents were reported. One near Eufaula, Alabama killed 13 and injured over 100 more. Another wreck near Wooster, Ohio killed 3 and injured another 12. Then there was the “Strange Wreck” in Joliet, Illinois. “Running forty miles an hour, a Santa Fe train carrying many passengers, ran through an open switch in Joliet to-day, but outside of slight injuries to the engineer when the engine plunged thirty feet to the street below, no one was hurt. The first coach alighted on top of the engine and retained its balance. Officials pronounced it the strangest wreck in the road’s history.”
New York City Mayor-elect, John Purroy Mitchel, filed a campaign report the day before. “Two hundred and seventy dollars for boxing lessons and a course in physical … read more »
View Virginia Newspaper Project – Holdings Map in a larger map
We just updated the map above to show the locations throughout the Commonwealth where we have digitized newspapers. Click on the blue marker and it will show you the titles we have digitized in that locality. Click on the linked title of the newspaper, and that will take you to chroniclevirginia.com where you can view the digitized issues.
Of course, the Library of Virginia has thousands more titles that haven’t been digitized yet, but are available in microfilm via inter-library loan. Check our Newspapers in Virginia database to see what we have on microfilm and in original format.… read more »
The University of Illinois has recently posted a couple videos that discuss the history and evolution of newspapers in the US. They are well done and informative.
There is a growing interest in the lost art of hand-lettering as evidenced by the recent premier of Sign Painters at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. in March.
At a time, when many young people have spent their entire lives with a computer in their home and Photoshop has become a verb, there is a renewed appreciation for the unique look that hand lettering produces. Here is a collection of random photos I have taken over the years, while I have worked with original newspapers here at the Library of Virginia.
These pieces are most likely from newspapers ranging from the 1900′s into the 1940′s, though hand lettering continued to be seen well into the 1970′s. Even before computers came along and completely decimated the craft there were other methods of photo-mechanical reproduction of type that severely limited the need for hand lettering.
Enjoy the lettering.
Don’t miss this second gallery of images.
Similar to our friends at the Mecklenburg Times in 1941, above, the Virginia Newspaper Project is taking some time off for the holidays. Best wishes to you and yours! We’ll see you next year!… read more »
The Library of Virginia does have the Saturday, April 15, 1865 issue of The Richmond Whig, but the paper made no mention of the assassination attempt from the previous night. In the April 15 issue, the first item on page one is an account of a speech given by President Lincoln on April 11 from a window at the White House on the subject of Reconstruction. Here is one interesting bit from the President’s speech, “The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, energy and daring to the same end. Granting that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. [Laughter.]”
Richmond has a long history of Whig newspapers, but similarly to The Richmond Times mentioned in the previous post, this edition of The Richmond Whig was a new newspaper, starting up in the days following the conclusion of the war.
Lester J. Cappon wrote about The Richmond Whig in his book Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935: “Publication suspended M[arch] 31, 1865, because of war conditions and ‘resumed this afternoon Ap[ril] 4–new ser., v.1, no. 1] with the consent of the military authorities. The editor, and all who heretofore controlled its columns, have taken their departure. The proprietor [William Ira Smith, April 4 - June 22, 1865] . . . has had a conference with Gen. Shepley, the Military Governor. . . . The Whig will therefore be issued hereafter as a Union paper,’ (cf. issue of Ap 4) the first … read more »