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Balch Institute ethnic images in advertising collection


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

In 1999, the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies created an exhibition on the depictions of various ethnic groups in local, regional, and national advertisements and mass media. This artificial collection of graphics resulted from staff culling items for that exhibition. The materials in the collection date from the 1890s to the late 1990s. The bulk of the images in the collection contain caricatured and stereotypical representations of individuals that were used widely in advertising and merchandizing in the early to mid twentieth century. In the collection researchers will find magazine and newspaper advertisements, produce labels, pamphlets and small publications, cards and postcards, clipart, menus, placemats, and ephemera, some of which was targeted at a specific ethnic group, such as fans from African American riding academies. There is also an illustrated promotional booklet from Fischer’s Coffee entitled “How to Ask for A Cup of Coffee in 32 Languages” (Box 1, Folder 20).

Among the many ethnic groups represented in the Balch Institute ethnic images in advertising collection are African American, Arab, Dutch, Eskimo, English, Chinese, North American Indian, Italian, Irish, Hawaiian, Hispanic, German, Jewish, Japanese, Scottish, Russian, Swiss, and Pennsylvania Dutch. There are also items that depict multiethnic groups, and at least one item does not appear to be connected to any group. In addition, some items have been separated into non-ethnic categories, such as "Immigrant" and "Appalachian."

In Box 1 the images are arranged alphabetically by name of ethnic group portrayed. Box 2 contains a series of 35mm photographs of items. most of which are in the collection, along with a few that are not. There is one flat file of oversized items pertaining to several different ethnic groups.

This collection consists of items that were culled together for an exhibit by Balch Institute staff members. Many of the items were given to the Balch Institute by Mari Kathleen Fielder, and some were purchased. Some items have unknown provenance.

Accession number 1985.056.

The items in this collection were previously part of the Balch Institute collection of miscellaneous ethnic ephemera (SPC002), but they were separated at some point in the past. An inventory of the materials in SPC002 is available in the library upon request.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Hutto
Finding Aid Date
; 2015.
Processing made possible by a generous donation from the Young Friends of HSP.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. The bulk of the collection has been digitized and is searchable through

Use Restrictions

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. Please contact HSP's Rights and Reproduction department for questions concerning the use of potentially copyrighted items.

Collection Inventory

African American [ads], 1902-1984, undated.
Box 1 Folder 1
African American [ephemera, clippings, miscellaneous], 1890-1995, undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Anglo, 1945-1984, undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Appalachian, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4
Arab, 1977, 1979, undated.
Box 1 Folder 5
Asian, 1927, 1940, 1988, undated.
Box 1 Folder 6
Chinese, 1935-1945, 1992, undated.
Box 1 Folder 7
Dutch, 1928, 1931, undated.
Box 1 Folder 8
English, 1901, 1909, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Eskimo, 1918, 1919, 1984, undated.
Box 1 Folder 10
German, 1913, 1942-1943, 1954, undated.
Box 1 Folder 11
Haitian, 1939.
Box 1 Folder 12
Hawaiian, 1905, 1937, 1966, undated.
Box 1 Folder 13
Hispanic, 1934-1966, 1981-1986, undated.
Box 1 Folder 14
Immigrant, 1935-1947, 1986, 1987, 1999, undated.
Box 1 Folder 15
Irish, 1891 (photocopy), 1939, 1988, 1990, 1991, undated.
Box 1 Folder 16
Italian, 1924-1990, undated.
Box 1 Folder 17
Japanese, 1938, 1943, undated.
Box 1 Folder 18
Jewish, 1916, 1935-1986, undated.
Box 1 Folder 19
Multiethnic, 1905, 1969, 1984-1990, undated.
Box 1 Folder 20
North American Indian, 1902, 1935-1945, 1986, undated.
Box 1 Folder 21
Pacific Islander, 1943.
Box 1 Folder 22
Pennsylvania Dutch, undated.
Box 1 Folder 23
Quaker, 1932, undated.
Box 1 Folder 24
Russian, 1959, 1960, 1967.
Box 1 Folder 25
Serbian, 1913.
Box 1 Folder 26
Scottish, 1938-1956, undated.
Box 1 Folder 27
Slovak, circa 1922.
Box 1 Folder 28
Swedish, 1987.
Box 1 Folder 29
Swiss, 1951.
Box 1 Folder 30
Unidentified, undated.
Box 1 Folder 31
Photographs of collection and non-collection items, 1984, undated.
Box 2
Oversized: African American, Dutch, Eskimo, Japanese, Jewish, Scottish, 1897-1917, undated.
Oversize Flat file 1

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