Today is the first day of a new academic year! Here at the RBMSCL, we’re celebrating this week by taking a closer look at a few of the wonderful student (undergraduate and graduate, Duke and non-Duke) employees who help make this place run. We wouldn’t know what to do without them, and we’d have a lot less fun, too. Thanks, y’all!
My name is Jenny Walters and I am a junior Music major here at Duke. I have worked in the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, & Marketing History for the past two summers. This year, in support of the RBMSCL’s upcoming renovation, I got to write up a lot of box lists—basically, inventories of what can be found in each box of an archival collection. I found a lot of interesting material in these boxes! Some of the funniest things I discovered were job applications for advertisement agencies from the 1950s and 1960s. There were questions such as “Do you have initiative?” and I was surprised to see that many people had answered “no.” While there is no way that these people would even be considered for a job in this day and age, they were obviously given jobs 50 to 60 years ago.
While I enjoyed discovering everything in all of the boxes, my favorite part of working with the Hartman Center is the advertisements. I like visually seeing history through the years of advertisements. We even have advertisements from as early as the 1880s!
Two of the most fascinating ads that I worked with this summer were from the 1960s for Seven-Up. The two ads were exactly the same, but one consisted of white people, while the other had black people. The people were in the exact same poses, had the exact same hairstyles, and wore the exact same clothes. Seven-Up wanted to have a broader appeal, but chose to do two ads, reflecting the advertising standards of the day.
Overall, I really enjoy working in the RBMSCL! It’s fun to see all of the different projects people come in to work on and discover something new in the holdings every day.
Post contributed by Jenny Walters, Hartman Center student employee.