The Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF) is America’s only non-profit organization connecting the business and academic leaders of our industry through conversations about advertising’s role in culture, history and society. From classroom education to professional thought leadership, historic preservation and communications scholarship, the AEF and its programs eagerly embrace the challenges and opportunities that define and motivate the great institutions we serve.

As part of our mission to proactively shine a spotlight on diverse populations and consumers in the United States, the AEF has undertaken an unprecedented project called Race & Ethnicity in Advertising—America in the 20th Century. Our goal is to develop the definitive online exhibition and archives about how American experiences of race and ethnicity have shaped and been shaped by the development of advertising over the course of the 20th century. We will establish an extensive resource for teaching and research about this critical aspect of American history.

These advertisements, created from 1890-today, express a range of ideas about race and ethnicity. While many of these ads represent widespread thinking among the dominant populations of their respective times, they can be deeply disturbing and offensive. AEF provides these images, not as an endorsement of their content, but in an educational effort to more fully understand advertising. We hope that by studying these advertisements users will deepen their knowledge about race, ethnicity, advertising and consumer culture in America and become more critical thinkers in the process.