J. Walter Thompson

Advertising America

Explore 100 years of advertising, consumer and cultural history.

The J Walter Thompson Company Archives stand alone as the most complete and informative record of the history of modern advertising.

The fascinating records of this pioneering agency document the research and creative processes behind the creation of advertisements, including many of the world’s biggest and best-known brands. The records also offer an evolving insider account of life within an advertising agency throughout the twentieth century, documenting changes such as the growing role of women in the industry.

As part of our suite of collections in American Consumer Culture, this digital resource charts the changing nature of advertising over the course of the twentieth century. Material reflects the society with which advertisements interact, and reveal the influence that advertising has over culture.

The collection is global in its scope. Advertising in the United States is a major focus, but the archives also cover J Walter Thompson offices across the world including the United Kingdom, Italy, the Philippines, Spain and more.

The collection features nine full account files of major J Walter Thompson clients, giving an unprecedented insight into the research, creative and decision-making process:

  • Kellogg
  • Kodak
  • Kraft
  • Oscar Mayer
  • Pan American World Airways
  • R T French
  • Scott Paper Company
  • United States Marine Corps
  • White Castle Restaurants
  • Market research into a range of products with reports such as Cigarettes: Their Role and Function
  • Insights into the creation of advertisements for a multitude of brands, from conception to final publication
  • How advertising helped influence the development of television
  • Advertising’s interactions with gender and gender roles through print advertisements, briefs and publications
  • How advertising professionals reflect on their work, its influence and what it means
  • A look at JWT company culture through staff newsletters
  • Advertisers predicting the future in J W Trends

Key data

Source archive

  • John W Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History, David M Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University
  • Creative briefs
  • Market research and reports
  • Staff newsletters
  • Print advertisements
  • Memoranda and correspondence
  • Staff meeting minutes
  • Annual reports
  • Client lists
  • Commercial schedules
  • Writings and speeches
  • David Blanke, Texas A and M University, Corpus Christi
  • Pamela W Laird, University of Colorado, Denver
  • Joshua Larkin Rowley, John W Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History
  • Matt McAllister, Penn State University
  • Katherine Parkin, Monmouth University
  • Jaqueline Reid Wachholz, director, John W Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History
  • Business and Economics
  • Marketing, Advertising and Design
  • North American Studies
  • Sociology, Social History and Social Science
  • J Walter Thompson: Advertising America is available within the cross-searchable suite of collections: American Consumer Culture, allowing students and scholars to broaden their research across three AM Digital products
  • Browse and search features
  • Contextual essays
  • Video interviews
  • Chronologies


You may also be interested in