Macfadden, Bernarr A. (1868-1955)
The publishing magnate Bernarr Adolphus Macfadden built an empire from various publishing ventures, particularly mass-circulation magazines with a confessional style and melodramatic depictions of love and romance that were aimed at a generally working-class readership. Two Macfadden magazines, True Story and True Romances, were wildly popular in the 1920s. True Story was the most widely read confessional magazine of the era, and by 1926 it had a paid circulation of over two million. Macfadden also published Physical Culture Magazine and the five-volume Encyclopedia of Physical Culture, which featured his ideas about "physcultopathy," or healing through the cultivation of one's body.
This digital collection contains the first two issues of one of Macfadden's publications, Your Car: A Magazine of Romance, Fact and Fiction. Your Car offered sensationalized romantic stories and car fantasies, as well as informational features, pictorial features (some portraying movie stars with particular cars), and advertisements. Like most Macfadden publications, it illustrated fiction with photographs, as though to give the stories authenticity.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, first held in 1924, originated as a Christmas parade. It highlighted the growth of the children's toy industry in the 1920s. Toy departments and "Toylands" opened in department stores everywhere, even in those as elegant as New York's Saks Fifth Avenue. Toy fairs and toy industry conventions proliferated. Magazines with names such as Playthings, Toy World, and Toys and Novelties recorded the immense profitability of the children's toy market for both manufacturers and retailers. Department stores in many cities sponsored Christmas parades with floats. Retailers also showed movies such as The North Wind (about Santa's preparations at the North Pole) to hundreds of children and their mothers as they shopped. Specially decorated Christmas windows featured mechanical toys and marionettes.
The trade journal Merchants Record and Show Window: An Illustrated Monthly Journal for Merchants, Display Managers and Advertising Men for December 1924 carried "Notes from New York," subtitled "Macy's parade and great mechanical showing of Christmas toys." The article mentions prize-winning Fifth Avenue windows and the first Macy's Christmas Parade, which displayed fairy-tale-theme floats calculated to increase the sale of toys and other merchandise. The parade was a successful consumer extravaganza and continues to be so to this day.
Made in the USA Campaign
In 1928 the American Trademark Association undertook a campaign urging consumers to buy American-made goods. Advertisements in the Calvin Coolidge Papers case file "Advertising - General, 1923-28" show that the campaign depended upon patriotic appeals to the public to resist "the propaganda for imported goods which is being spread to the detriment of home industries." American trademarks and slogans came to be used as markers of national identity, part of an effort to exclude non-American goods from the national economy. However, trademarks tended to favor large companies with nationally distributed products at the expense of smaller companies competing in regional or local markets.
McNary-Haugen Farm Legislation
The most prominent attempts to legislate farm assistance in the 1920s were the McNary-Haugen bills, named after Republican Senator Charles McNary of Oregon, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Representative Gilbert N. Haugen of Iowa. Together they sponsored legislation intended to help farmers get higher prices for their goods. The bills they drafted proposed that the federal government boost agricultural prices by buying up surpluses at a fair price level, disposing of them on foreign markets at a loss, and recovering that loss through a fee assessed against agricultural producers.
The first McNary-Haugen-sponsored Agricultural Surplus Control Bill began to make its way through Congress in 1924 but did not reach a vote until 1927. It passed Congress on February 17, 1927, but President Coolidge vetoed it on February 25, 1927. Coolidge also vetoed a second bill on May 23, 1928. The president feared that supporting farmers in this way would perpetuate rather than solve the central problem of agricultural overproduction. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover also opposed the McNary-Haugen remedy. Once Hoover became president, however, he faced the congressional farm bloc's ongoing demands and in 1929 signed into law a compromise measure, the Agricultural Credits and Marketing Act. This legislation was intended to stabilize farm prices. It provided federal assistance to for agricultural marketing associations and emergency price-support operations. A photograph taken on June 15, 1929, shows Senator McNary and Representative Haugen celebrating after President Hoover had signed the compromise bill.
See also: "McNary-Haugen Bill, 1923-28" and "Cooperative Marketing--Agriculture, 1923-28" (Calvin Coolidge Papers); New Masses (February 1927).
Mellon, Andrew W. (1855-1937)
The financier and industrialist Andrew William Mellon was secretary of the treasury from 1921 to 1931, a term of office that spanned the administrations of Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. Mellon came from a wealthy banking family. During his years as secretary of the treasury, taxes and the national debt were substantially reduced. This seeming paradox was effected, in part, by drastic budget cuts.
In 1924, Mellon published Taxation: The People's Business, a plan to put more money in the hands of consumers and businessmen by reducing the federal income tax. His proposal bore fruit in the Revenue Acts of 1924, 1926, and 1928. Andrew Mellon is pictured in a February 26, 1926,photograph, "President Coolidge signs tax bill!" The tax-reduction bill in question became known as "Mellon's tax plan."
See also: The Nation (February 20, 1929).
The Messenger, a socialist magazine for African American readers was founded in 1917 by A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979). Remembered today for his oratory and organizational leadership in the Civil Rights Movement, Randolph was above all a labor leader. In 1925, he organized workers on Pullman cars into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Ten years later, the Brotherhood won its first contract with the Pullman Palace Car Company. In 1941, Randolph led the March on Washington movement, which forced President Franklin Roosevelt to establish the Fair Employment Practices Committee. When the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged in 1955 as the AFL-CIO, Randolph was named vice-president. Later he was an important force behind the 1963 March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress holds both the A. Philip Randolph Papers (including some material about The Messenger) and the Records of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The Messenger is available at the Library of Congress in microfilm only; some issues are missing.
See also: "The Negro and Economic Radicalism" in Opportunity (February 1926).
Moton, Robert R. (1867-1940)
Robert Russa Moton succeeded Booker T. Washington as principal of Tuskegee Institute and president of the National Negro Business League. The League's goal was to publicize black business both to African Americans and to American society in general. Under Dr. Moton's leadership, the League worked with the Association of National Advertisers and other established promoters of mainstream business development.
In 1929 Moton was invited to serve on the board of directors of the Dunbar National Bank, an institution established in 1928 to serve the African American community in Harlem. Moton was also instrumental in the growth of the Colored Merchants' Association, a national cooperative of black grocery stores.
See also: Selections from the Booker T. Washington Papers at the Library of Congress.
National Association of Wage Earners
The National Association of Wage Earners worked to standardize and improve living conditions for women, particularly migrant workers, and to develop and encourage efficiency among African American workers. The organization operated a factory where many members were employed making work dresses, aprons, and caps for sale by mail order; and a domestic service center in Washington, D.C., for teaching employment-related skills. The association was founded in 1921, with Nannie Helen Burroughs as president and Mary McLeod Bethune as vice president. Burroughs, who had founded a national training school for black girls in 1909, was active in the nation's capital as an advocate of vocational education. Bethune, who later headed the National Association of Colored Women, had also started a school for African American women in Daytona, Florida, which became Bethune-Cookman College. Both Burroughs and Bethune were especially concerned with improving economic opportunities for black women.
See also: "Homemaker-Consumer Life in Washington, D.C., 1924" (Anna Kelton Wiley Papers).