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Collection Overview

The Records of the Curtis Publishing Company housed by the University of Pennsylvania fall into three major categories, plus a residual category of a small amount of historical material:

  1. Ladies' Home Journal circa 1887-1946: correspondence, financial records, and a small amount of historical material related to the publication.
  2. Division of Commercial Research, Advertising Department: research reports, speeches, and statistical studies directed by Charles Coolidge Parlin, his associates and successors ca. 1911-1960
  3. serials: in-house publications of the Curtis Company ca. 1913-1957.
  4. historical material, scrapbooks, and memorabilia.

With the exception of a few items of memorabilia, the earliest material in the Curtis Publishing Company records at the University of Pennsylvania does not cover the period when Ladies' Home Journal was edited by Louisa Knapp. The financial records, books of remittances for Ladies' Home Journal date from 1889, the year Edward W. Bok became editor of the Journal. The correspondence of managing editor William V. Alexander begins 10 years later, dating from 1899-1911.

The collection contains only a few items of correspondence dated after 1911 and does not include material related to the editorial content of Saturday Evening Post or Country Gentleman. The second section of the records is the largest: the work of the Advertising Department and its Division of Commercial Research from 1911-1945. These early marketing research studies contain valuable information about the towns and cities in which the research took place. In some of the studies, Charles C. Parlin and his associates attempted to interview every household in the community. Parlin's development of interviewing techniques is of interest to sociologists, anthropologists, folklorists, and others who undertake ethnographic interviewing. The collection of Charles C. Parlin's speeches is also a valuable resource for tracing the development of advertising for specific products.

The Curtis Publishing Company produced a number of in-house newsletters and magazines for employees which offer an inside look at the company for the period 1913-1954. Of particular interest are newsletters published during World War II.

There are a few items of historic interest in the collection in the final series. These include a damaged scrapbook with dates from ca. 1880 when Curtis was publishing Tribune and Farmer to the early years of  Ladies' Home Journal.

Accordion List