Marya McQuirter, Digital Curator
African Americans have been represented in advertising since its inception in the mid-19th century. Most of the visual images (until World War II) featured African Americans as stereotypes and caricatures, the most prominent image arguably Aunt Jemima as the quintessential Mammy.
Shalini Shankar, Northwestern University
Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans, since the late 19th century, have been depicted in a variety of ways ranging from unwanted aliens to model minority geeks to affluent consumers. These representations mirror various immigration trends, entrees into local economies, US military alliances, and policies.
Lenore Metrick-Chen, Drake University
Chromolithographic trade cards used the Chinese figure as a means to explore aspects of 19th-century culture. Unlike representations with a single and specific meaning, such as that of Uncle Sam, the Chinese figure held a range of possible meanings.
Robert W. Snyder, Rutgers University
In a Yiddish newspaper of the early twentieth century, the American brand name of Uneeda Biscuit bursts from lines of Hebrew type. In a glossy mid-century magazine, an African American Pullman porter eases the day of a harried, white and middle class traveler.
Kathy Peiss, University of Pennsylvania
Gender is central to our understanding of racial and ethnic images in American advertising. Since the late nineteenth century, advertising has contributed to the ways Americans understand ideals of masculinity and femininity.
Eli Diner, University of California, Los Angeles, and Hasia Diner, New York University
Neither scholars of advertising nor historians of the American Jewish experience have paid much attention to tracing the role of Jews in the advertising profession nor how American advertisers employed images of Jews to market products. These two lacunae stand in stark contrast to the extensive scholarship in American Jewish history, a field that, since the 1890s, has seen vast inquiries into the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the America’s Jews.
Clara Rodriguez, Fordham University
Hollywood has always been about more than weaving stories on the silver screen. It has also worked hand-in-glove with the advertising industry.
James Rodriguez, New York University
Today, Hispanic marketing is a multibillion dollar industry with advertising agencies spread throughout New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and virtually every other city with a large concentration of Latino populations. As the Latino population in the United States continues to rise the Hispanic marketing industry is poised for even larger gains, and even greater relevancy on the national stage.
Stephanie A.L. Molholt, Community College of Baltimore County
Since the inception of national advertising in the late nineteenth century, advertisers have employed what they interpret as representations of “Indians” to sell goods and services. These representations appear in the form of both images and text and all of them exploit Native Americans for the benefit of mainstream U.S.
Arlene Davila, New York University
Despite the existence of different racial and national ideologies throughout the Americas, the legacies of European and U.S. empire, colonialism and cultural dominance have naturalized whiteness and “blanqueamiento” as the coveted ideal.
William M. O’Barr, Duke University
Advertising imagery has usually depicted sexuality as heteronormative. Over the last couple of decades, gays and eventually lesbians have crept into it.
Shalini Shankar, Northwestern University
South Asian Americans have had relatively little visibility in American advertising until fairly recently. Contributing factors to this lacuna include the way early South Asian immigrants were regarded in early 20th century America, when the Indian Subcontinent was still under British Rule..
These overview essays, written by leading scholars, explore the history of advertising for specific racial and ethnic groups, and how they intersect with major themes. There are essays on African Americans, American Jews, Chinese Americans, European Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos/as, Native Americans and South Asian Americans. There are also essays on gender and sexuality.