Advertising Before the Civil War

Advertising Index Page

Axtell, James.  “The First Consumer Revolution.” In Consumer Society in American History: A Reader, Lawrence B. Glickman, ed.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.

Bailyn, Bernard.  The New England Merchants of the Seventeenth Century.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955.

Barrow, Robert M.  “Newspaper Advertising in Colonial America, 1704-1775.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1967.

Baumgarten, Linda.  What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

Berg, Maxine.  “In Pursuit of Luxury: Global History and British Consumer Goods in the Eighteenth Century.” Past and Present 182 (February 2004): 85-142.

Breen, T.H.  “Baubles of Britain: The American and Consumer Revolutions of the Eighteenth Century.” Past and Present 119 (1988): 73-104.

Breen, T.H.  “Narrative of Commercial Life: Consumption, Ideology, and Community on the Eve of the Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly 50:3 (July 1993): 471-501.  Also reprinted in Consumer Society in American History: A Reader, edited by Lawrence Glickman.

Breen, T.H.  The Marketplace Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Brekke, Linzy A.  “The Scourge of Fashion: Political Economy and the Politics of Consumption in the Early Republic.”  Early American Studies (Spring 2005): 106-139.

Brekke, Linzy A.  “Fashioning America: Clothing, Consumerism, and the Politics of Appearance in the Early Republic.”  PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 2007.

Brekke-Aloise, Linzy. “‘A Very Pretty Business’: Fashion and Consumer Culture in Antebellum American Prints.” Winterthur Portfolio 48 (Summer–Autumn 2014): 191–212.

Busse, Michele Conrady. “Got Silk? Buying, Selling, and Advertising British Luxury Imports During the Stamp Act Crisis.” PhD dissertation, University of North Texas, 2007.

Byrne, Frank J.  Becoming Bourgeois: Merchant Culture in the South, 1820–1865.  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. 

Carson, Cary, et al., eds. Of Consuming Interest: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1994.*

        A collection of essays on American material culture in the colonial and revolutionary periods.  The collection provides a good overview of various strands of research in early consumer behavior and the study of material objects as evidence of how and what Americans purchased.  Although most of the essays do not specifically deal with advertising, a great deal can be learned about early consumption patterns based on store’s records, inventories, estate and tax data, and probate records.  Consumption patterns in colonial America were determined to a large degree on the availability of goods and early advertising tended to announce the type of goods for sale rather than to promote the purchase of an individual brand (branded products being extremely rare in any case at this time) Also examined here are changing styles and fashions and the way in which they influenced purchasing habits and trends, even in this early period.  See annotations for individual essays elsewhere in this bibliography.

Church, Roy.  “New Perspectives on the History of Products, Firms, Marketing, and Consumers in Britain and the United States Since the mid-Nineteenth Century.”  Economic History Review 52 (August 1999): 405-435.

Clemens, Paul G. E. “The Consumer Culture of the Middle Atlantic, 1760–1820.”  William and Mary Quarterly 62 (October 2005): 577–624.

Cohen, Daniel A. “The Murder of Maria Bickford: Fashion, Passion, and the Birth of Consumer Culture.” American Studies 31:2 (Fall 1990): 5-30.

Cohen, Joanna. “Promoting Pleasure as Political Economy: The Transformation of American Advertising, 1800 to 1850.” Winterthur Portfolio 48 (Summer–Autumn 2014), 163–190.

Cohen, Joanna.  Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.

Dierks, Konstantin. “Letters Writing, Stationery Supplies, and Consumer Modernity in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World.”  Early American Literature 41 (Nov. 2006): 473–494.

Doerflinger, Thomas.  A Vigorous Spirit of Enterprise: Merchants and Economic Development in Revolutionary Philadelphia.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.

Duguid, Paul.  “Developing the Brand: The Case of Alcohol, 1800-1880.”  Enterprise and Society 4:3 (2003): 405-441.

DuPlessis, Robert S.  The Material Atlantic: Clothing, Commerce, and Colonization in the Atlantic World, 1650-1800.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Foutch, Ellery E.  “Moving Pictures: Magic Lanterns, Portable Projections, and Urban Advertising in the 19th Century.”  Modernism/Modernity 23:4 (November 2016): 733-769.

Glickman, Lawrence.  “Buy For the Sake of the Slave: Abolitionism and the Rise of American Consumer Activism.” American Quarterly 56:4 (2004): 889-912.

Gibb, James G.  The Archeology of Wealth: Consumer Behavior in English America.  New York: Plenum Press, 1996.

Goodman, Dena, and Kathryn Norberg.  Furnishing the 18th Century.  New York: Routledge, 2006.

Hancock, David.  Citizens of the World: London Merchants and the Integration of the British Atlantic Community, 1735-1785. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Hartigan-O’Connor, Ellen.  The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

Haulman, Kate.  The Politics of Fashion in the Eighteenth Century.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.

Jaffee, David.  “Peddles of Progress and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1760-1860.”  Journal of American History 78:2 (September 1991): 511-535.

Keyes, Carl Robert. “Early American Advertising: Marketing and Consumer Culture in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia.”  PhD dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 2008.

Kowaleski-Wallace, Elizabeth.  Consuming Subjects: Women, Shopping, and Business in the Eighteenth Century.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.

Larson, Jon Lauritz.  The Market Revolution in America: Liberty, Ambition, and the Eclipse of the Common Good.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Lawson, Cedric.  “Patent Medicine Advertising and the Early American Press.” Journalism Quarterly 14 (December 1937): 333-341.

LeBeau, Bryan F.  “Art in the Parlor: Consumer Culture and Currier and Ives.”  Journal of American Culture 30:1 (March 2007): 18-37.

Matson, Cathy.  Merchants and Empire: Trading in Colonial New York.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Matson, Cathy, ed.  The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives and New Directions.  University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006.

McKendrick, Neil, John Brewer, and J. H. Plumb, The Birth of Consumer Society: The Commercialization of Eighteenth-Century England. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1982.

Nash, R. C.  “Domestic Material Culture and Consumer Demand in the British Atlantic World: Colonial South Carolina, 1670–1770,” in Material Culture in Anglo-America: Regional Identity and Urbanity in the Tidewater, Lowcountry, and Caribbean, ed. David S. Shields. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2009.

Olasky, Marvin. “Advertising Abortion During the 1830s and 1840s: Madame Restell  Builds a Business.” Journalism History 13 (1986): 49-55.

     A brief study of the career and influence of one of antebellum America’s most notorious advertisers.  Madame Restell advertised her abortion products in New York newspapers in the 1830s and 1840s, carefully avoiding using the actual word abortion since performing abortions or selling abortifacients  was illegal.  Instead she marketed products for “removing female blockages” or “restoring menstrual stoppages” that typically induced a miscarriage and ended pregnancy.  One ad from the New York Sun warned “must not be taken during p*******y, as they would produce a******n.  This clever warning fooled no one and undoubtedly caught the eye of many women in need of just such a product.  Restell found herself harassed by the police and physicians and was the target of anti-vice reformers.  She spent time in prison in the 1840s, but managed to stay in business until 1878.  In that year she was again arrested and ended up apparently committing suicide rather than going to prison again at age 65.  As Olasky makes clear, newspapers found themselves in a moral dilemma because at the same time they accepted Restell’s ads, they engaged in various anti-vice crusades.  According to Olasky, however, abortion was not one of the issues that generated angry editorials.  

Rose, Anne C.  Voices of the Marketplace: American Thought and Culture, 1830-1860.  New York: Twayne, 1995.

Sellers, Charles Coleman.  The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Shammas, Carole.  The Pre-industrial Consumer in England and America.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Shaw, Steven J. “Colonial Newspaper Advertising: A Step Toward Freedom of the Press.”  Business History Review 33:3 (Autumn 1959): 409-420. 

Smart Martin, Ann.  Buying Into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

Smith, Woodruff.  Consumption and the Making of Respectability, 1600-1800.  New York: Routledge, 2002.

Styles, John, and Amanda Vickery, eds.  Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Stymeist, David.  “Strange Wives: Pocahontas in Early Modern Colonial Advertisements.”  Mosaic 35:3 (September 2002): 109.

Valeri, Mark.  Heavenly Merchandise: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Walsh, Lorena S.  “Urban Amenities and Rural Sufficiency: Living Standards and Consumer Behavior in Colonial Chesapeake 1643-1777.” Journal of Economic History 43 (March 1983): 108-117.

Windley, Lathan A.  Runaway Slave Advertisements: A Documentary History from the 1730s to 1790, 4 vols.  Westport: Greenwood, 1983.

Woloson, Wendy A.  “Wishful Thinking: Retail Premiums in Mid-nineteenth-century America.” Enterprise and Society 13 (September 2012): 790–831.

Wright, Richardson.  Hawkers and Walkers in Early America.  Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1927.

Young, James Harvey.  The Toadstool Millionaires. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.

Zieger, Susan Marjorie.  The Mediated Mind: Affect, Ephemera, and Consumerism in the Nineteenth Century.  New York: Fordham University Press, 2018.

Advertising Index Page