THE READER AS CONSUMER:
CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
AND THE DEFINITION OF AUDIENCE, 1910-1930
Edward Bok used to say that he edited the Ladies' Home Journal with an
ideal woman in mind. He first saw her not long after he became the
's editor in 1889, when he and Cyrus Curtis took a trip to several
cities to "study the needs of the American people." He saw the woman
church and later at a concert with her husband and children. He
her house, which had an air of "homeness" and refinement, and he
that the woman herself seemed, "by her dress, manner, and in every
be typical of the best in American womanhood."
The key word in Bok's assessment was "best." From about 1890, he and
other members of the staff of Curtis Publishing Company continually
to make the case that Curtis publications reached the elite of
society -- people with culture and, most important, people with
company told advertisers that Curtis publications, with their "high grade"
artwork and printing, appealed only to "the intelligent, the earnest and
the progressive." The Ladies' Home Journal was "designed for the home
loving," while the Saturday Evening Post was "designed for the men and
women who desire a wholesome, sane and entertaining treatment of modern
life in fiction and in fact." The Post's editor, George Horace
said that the Post appealed "to two classes of men: Men with income,
men who are going to have incomes, and the second is quite as
the first to the advertiser." With its farm magazine Country
Curtis assured advertisers "an intelligent audience, an interested
and a well-grounded confidence," and insisted that "the exceptional
constant increase in the wealth of these particular readers means that
season to season they will be more and more desirable customers for
high-grade merchandise of many sorts." Similarly, Curtis proclaimed
Public Ledger newspaper the publication of the "intelligent masses,"
advertisers: "What kind of people do you wish to reach in Philadelphia?"
Even as the publisher of the two widest-circulating magazines of the 1910s
and 1920s, though, Curtis Publishing couldn't escape the scrutiny of
advertisers who wanted proof of its readership claims. Bok noted in 1913
that the Journal had been criticized for being taken by too many girls
not enough serious-minded women, although he discounted any such
as speculation. Companies such as Peerless, Packard and
automobiles were skeptical that buyers of their products actually read
Curtis publications, and they were, therefore, reluctant to buy Curtis
advertising. The advertising manager of the Thomas B. Jeffery
maker of Rambler Motor Cars, criticized magazines in general for
about their widespread circulations but failing to provide accurate
information to back up their claims that their readers were really
More widespread were concerns that magazines, including those published by
Curtis, failed to reach a unique audience. That is, readers tended to
subscribe to more than one periodical. To advertisers who sought the
widest possible audience at the lowest possible cost, such "duplication"
was often seen as wasteful and inefficient. Why, advertisers asked,
they buy space in both the Post and the Journal if the same families
subscribed to both magazines?
To blunt such criticism and to provide proof that it reached both a mass
and a class audience, Curtis began using its nascent Division of
Research, which was formed in 1911, to compile information about readers.
Its early readership reports appear to be among the first ever conducted
by an American publisher. This paper uses those studies, along with
speeches, advertisements, articles and other sources from Curtis
Company to look at how Curtis used those early readership reports. By
focusing on a single company, Curtis Publishing Company, I attempt
how the consumer culture that emerged at the turn of the century
way magazines perceived and portrayed readers during the early twentieth
century. I explore some of the origins of readership research, and
that even before readership research began, publications defined
appeal to advertisers.
Over the past ten or so years, researchers have begun to ask historical
questions about readers of newspapers and magazines, although less so
about the readers of books. Much of the research in this area has
on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and has provided important
insights into readers and readership. This study does not provide a
history of readers, but rather looks at the way in which the dominant
American publishing company of the early twentieth century defined and
studied its readers, and then used information about them to shape its
image to appeal to advertisers. As such, it is closely tied to the
emergence of a consumer culture, a business-based, market-oriented culture
that put, as William Leach has written, the accumulation of wealth and
goods at the center of American life. Baldasty has shown how the
newspaper journalism changed during the nineteenth century as a
culture emerged, and Susman and Taylor have looked at the
media and culture in the early twentieth century. Fox and Lears,
Mott, Pollay,, Wilson, and Tebbel and Zuckerman have
looked at the way
magazines, especially Curtis magazines, worked to earn readers' trust in
advertising. Kreshel has explored the early culture of market
and has shown how it was used to try to reduce the uncertainty of
advertising and to legitimize advertising as a profession. Publishers
began using market research regularly in the first two decades of the
twentieth century when advertisers began demanding proof about
and readership claims. The identification of readers in mere
numbers no longer seemed enough, especially for publishers and
agents seeking to prove the "efficiency" and effectiveness of
Advertisers wanted to know who those readers were and what other
publications they read. They wanted to know where the readers lived and
the types of products they bought. Just as businesses increasingly
information about markets, they likewise sought information about
and consumers. Curtis conducted its first readership survey in 1916, and
through the 1920s expanded its use of audience studies. That research
involved a process of definition that required both inclusion and
exclusion, and helped publishers like Curtis carve a niche in the mass
market. It also reinforced stereotypes of blacks and immigrants,
them as outcasts in a culture built on the ability to buy. To Cyrus
and his staff, readers were more than just an audience; they were a
product in themselves, something that could be defined, packaged and sold
to advertisers. As in the commercial publishing world today, readers
* * * * *
In the early twentieth century, Curtis Publishing often blurred the
distinction between "class" and "mass" circulation as its subscription
lists soared into the hundreds of thousands, and then into the millions.
Its definition of "class," though, was middle class -- or, perhaps
appropriately, buying class. The target readership was often defined
the ownership of such things as homes, automobiles, typewriters and
telephones, or the availability of electricity or department-store charge
accounts. It sought to portray its publications as the choice of
well-to-do, but then broadened its definition of well-to-do to include
everyone from "millionaire to mill worker" -- essentially anyone who
be considered "a substantial citizen and a good customer for a worthy
product." By 1915, Bok had begun defining the readers of the Ladies'
Journal by income. He told the advertising staff that the magazine
directed primarily toward families with incomes of $1,200 to $2,500,
a lesser extent toward those with $3,000 to $5,000 income -- what at the
time would have been middle class or upper middle class. Some people
made more money also read the magazine, he acknowledged. "We direct
attention, however, to the class from $1,200 to $3,000, because they
the families having the greatest need of help, and to whom we can be
greatest assistance." That "assistance," as several scholars have
often involved instructing people what to buy and how to buy. In the
and 1920s, for instance, Curtis sold patterns of fashions featured in the
Journal, offered blueprints for houses featured in the Journal, and
with department stores to display and make available the ready-to-wear
fashions the magazines showcased.
Lorimer didn't have nearly as precise a definition of readers of the Post,
but he nonetheless had an idea of who his readers were. He used to lurk
near the newsstand at the Reading Railroad terminal in Philadelphia
who bought the Post. He described those people as "the class of people
you like to see -- the prosperous business men and the young women who
positions with good firms." Cyrus Curtis had made similar generalizations
himself in the late nineteenth century. From the early 1880s, when he
established the Tribune and Farmer, a weekly paper whose women's
eventually became the Ladies' Home Journal, Curtis told advertisers that
the readers of Curtis publications were something special. He
that the paper's "entire circulation was secured by newspaper
consequently all our readers are peculiarly the very class who read
answer advertisements." He also promised advertisers that if their
failed to produce results, "we shall neither expect nor solicit a
continuance of your patronage." To attract subscribers, Curtis offered
paper at a discount, but only if buyers would sign a statement that they
would "read and answer the Advertisements as far as they can
do so." He sought to induce in readers a sense of responsibility
his publication, toward advertisers and toward buying in general, and
tried to create a sense of guilt in those who didn't buy advertised
products. He admitted that advertisements were scorned by many people, but
he promised, in language that would later be repeated in promotional
material for the Ladies Home Journal, that Tribune and Farmer
advertisements "are known to be reliable and may be answered with
safety." Advertisers, he told readers, were for the most part
manufacturers and producers, and by answering ads, consumers could
the middleman. "So great a variety is advertised in our columns that
is almost sure to find something he needs, and having found it, should
hesitate to send for it, not only for his own profit but for ours
by giving this paper at cost, we are obliged to look to advertisers for
our profits, and must make it a good medium to secure patronage."
As competition among magazines and newspapers stiffened in the early
twentieth century, and as advertisers increasingly sought the most
appropriate, as well as the largest, audiences for their products, Curtis
Publishing turned to market research to help back up its claims.
his first several years at Curtis, Charles Coolidge Parlin, the
the company's Division of Commercial Research, concentrated on
understanding the workings and interactions of the manufacturer, the
wholesaler, the retailer and the consumer. Between 1911 and 1915, as
Parlin conducted studies of agricultural implements, textiles, department
stores, automobiles and foodstuffs, though, he gathered anecdotal
information about the readership of the Post and Journal. He didn't
attempt to conduct an analysis of the readers of the two magazines, but
instead talked with many merchants, jobbers and manufacturers around
country about the content of the magazines and their perceptions of
readers. He didn't seem as interested in finding out anything new
the magazines, but rather in confirming their importance to readers
businesses. "Everybody reads the Post," Parlin wrote, "not only
merchants and their buyers but the girls at the counter." He also wrote
that department store managers considered both the Journal and the
"authorities on quality," and they pored over the magazines to try to
up tips for their newspaper advertising and to apply to their
He later compiled snippets of his interviews in a book for advertising
representatives, and he urged representatives to familiarize
with the quotes before meeting with potential advertisers.
Parlin conducted the company's first readership study in 1915 and 1916, a
mail survey of 31,000 readers of the Country Gentleman, a farm
that Curtis had purchased a few years before. He followed that, in
and 1920, with a study of the Public Ledger newspaper of Philadelphia.
two reports seem to be among the first full-fledged commercial readership
surveys done by a U.S. publisher. Although readership studies of
and Journal would later become a regular part of Curtis' research,
two publications were left mostly to the guises of their editors in
1910s and early 1920s. They were vastly successful, and the
to see no need to apply extensive research to successful products.
Rather, it used readership studies to try to better understand its two
newest publications -- Country Gentleman and the Public Ledger --
publications that, although growing, never met with the immense
profitability achieved by the Post and the Journal.
The first Country Gentleman survey looked partly at reader wants, but it
was still primarily aimed at gathering information for the advertising
department. The purpose of the survey, Parlin wrote, "was to define the
characteristics of these readers, their agricultural activities, their
habits of buying, and their interest in The Country Gentleman." The
questions he asked helped define readers as people with money and land,
the ability to make major capital purchases -- such things as tools and
machinery. More than 90% lived within twenty-five miles of a trading
center, indicating that they "can be cultivated for the sale of products
having a distribution in city stores." A follow-up survey in 1920
much the same information, but broke the survey into more geographic
and identified the brands of products that readers bought. It also
to determine why non-rural residents purchased Country Gentleman.
year, the readership survey was disguised as a contest, asking subscribers
to submit essays about "Why I subscribe to the Country Gentleman. The
company conducted follow-up surveys in 1925, 1926, 1931 and 1940.
The Public Ledger survey didn't seek to define the newspaper's readership
-- Curtis did that itself in choosing whom it interviewed -- but
instead "to formulate concrete suggestions for the betterment" of the
editorial product. How, in other words, could the newspaper attract more
readers? The survey was made at the request of Ledger editors, and of
Cyrus Curtis, who had purchased the newspaper in 1911 in hopes of
it into a national daily that would help boost the image of
Created as a penny paper in 1836, the Public Ledger had long had a
reputation as a conservative newspaper with a devoted readership that was
"all quality." Curtis created a companion afternoon paper for the
in 1914, sparing no expense with either, and often operating at a loss
city newspaper market that was growing in readership but shrinking in the
number of competitors. Even as Parlin and his staff formulated a
the Ledger newsrooms, though, they grounded their opinions in the
of advertising, reflecting a shift, which had started in the
century, toward running newspapers as commercial businesses. The
of the advertising columns depended to a great extent on the success
editorial columns. If a newspaper couldn't attract readers, it couldn't
attract advertisers, and if it didn't have advertisers, it couldn't
to pay for the editorial product. It seemed probable, Parlin wrote,
serious losses in advertising or circulation whenever they occur are
reflect unsound editorial policies; for, what in the long run is best for
one department must be best for all." He advised the Ledger staff to
concentrate on three things: becoming a city booster, improving the
accuracy of local news, and avoiding sensationalism. He also urged the two
newspapers to follow a unified editorial policy and to be less aggressive
in taking on public officials and in taking unpopular stands on
controversial issues in editorials and news stories. In other words, he
offered the same advice to the newspapers that he would have offered
manufacturer of consumer goods: Provide a quality product consistently
and do so without offending buyers. Journalism was a commodity that
be shaped and packaged just like any other commodity. The trick was
enough market share to achieve profitability. Parlin urged going after
the "right" market, the readers with money -- the type of consumers
advertisers most desired. A consistent, conservative and thoughtful
editorial policy would do just that, he wrote.
* * * * *
In late 1913, R.O. Eastman of the breakfast-food company Kellogg's told
the Curtis advertising staff of a readership survey he had directed
that year. The survey was backed by more than sixty companies that, like
Kellogg's, wanted "to know what we are buying." That is, they wanted
know more about magazines' readers, especially how much duplication of
circulation there was among the dozens of popular magazines. Eastman
compared an advertising purchase to a purchase of coal, which was
to determine its heating and power potential. "We cannot buy
that way, unfortunately," he said, "but we ought to work toward that
-- of buying and selling advertising by its heat units, by its power
by what it will do." The survey Eastman had directed consisted of a
house-to-house canvass of 16,894 homes in two hundred nine cities and
states. He said that such surveys were just a beginning. "Advertising is
a force; a wonderful, powerful, tremendous force, but it has not been
weighted, measured or gauged. Not only that; we have not found, we have
not devised, the weights and measures or the gauge wherewith to weigh,
measure and gauge it. The first rudiments of the thing are before
Curtis took the hint from Eastman and other advertisers. The company
first provided a detailed breakdown of its circulation in 1919, and
the 1920s and 1930s, it continued to expand its analyses of circulation,
correlating Curtis circulation with such things as income tax returns,
number of wage earners, value of products sold in an area and the number
passenger cars (both Fords and non-Fords). It mined the 1920 census for
information about rent and other indicators of income. It also used
own research to further its claims of superiority over competing
publications. In 1922, the company cross-checked the subscriber lists of
the Post, the Journal and Country Gentleman from Ohio, Iowa and New
show that the duplication of subscribers among the magazines was small.
Other studies compared such things as population, income and
and the circulation methods used by Country Gentleman and other farm
papers. That same year, it surveyed Post readers and asked them to name
the other magazines they read, trying to determine how much
there was between Post, Journal and Country Gentleman subscribers and
subscribers of competing publications. It continued to expand the
analyses of its readership, providing circulation figures by cities
counties, along with consumption information about each. It also tried
justify the cost of advertising in its publications, showing how a
the Post or Journal cost more than an ad in other magazines but
more people, thus offering a lower cost per reader. It also began to
compile information to rebut arguments that few women read the Post
(although its target audience was still men), and that the magazine had
grown so large -- it often exceeded two hundred pages in the late 1920s
that readership of advertisements had declined. In 1928, the
interviewed residents of more than 28,000 homes in Watertown, New York,
determine not only which magazines people of the community bought, but
important, what magazines they actually read. "Advertisers pay for
circulation," the company wrote in 1925. "But any part of the circulation
of a magazine that doesn't produce readers is waste. The most
magazine to an advertiser is the magazine whose number of readers is
highest in proportion to its circulation. That is why advertising volume
tends to parallel `number of readers' rather than `quantity of
Worrying about the effect of movies, radio, automobiles and competing
magazines, Curtis began looking more substantially at readership of the
Post in the mid-1920s. In 1925, it sent staff members to four towns
called upon mostly men in offices and homes, drugstores and groceries
obtain something rather definite as to the intensity with which the
was being read." Two years later, it told its advertising staff
best way to respond to advertiser doubts about readership was to cite
circulation, which had surpassed 3,000,000. It also railed against
competitors who cited "figures showing newsstand sales of ONE issue, with
phrases that paint a brilliant picture of reader-hordes, pantingly
trampling on each other's necks in their anxiety to buy. ... But for
week-in-and-week-out, all-the-year-through DEMAND, we can submit facts
enable us safely to challenge any publication to come within Big-Bertha
range of the Post." The first broad study of Post readership
seems to have
been done in 1930, and was followed up in 1936 and 1939. In the 1930
study, Curtis said that certain basic things were known about all
publications: total circulation, advertising volume, the class of
advertising published, and their physical appearance. Several lesser-known
things were just as important, though, Curtis argued: how long a magazine
was kept in a home, how many readers it had per copy, how readership was
broken down by sex and occupation, and whether advertising was read.
"There is no standard of measurement by which the biggest factor in publ
ishing may be reckoned -- the extent to which its columns are valued by
reader," the company wrote. Curtis used that survey, as it had earlier
surveys, to argue that the Post reached a disproportionate percentage
high-income people, and that each issue sold was read by 3.84
next year, it translated that estimate into consumption, saying that
Post's nearly 3,000,000 copies were read each week by 11,400,000
ate 239,400,000 meals, had 220,000 birthdays and more than 120,000
anniversaries, marriages or engagements. It prepared for those readers an
imaginary meal of oyster stew, rolls, butter, coffee, ice cream and
estimating that it would require 60,000,000 oysters, 11,400,000 rolls,
236,000 pounds of butter, 228,000 pounds of coffee, 1,900,000 quarts of
cream and 570,000 cakes. "Discount this as you will," the company wrote.
"It's a market."
In the late 1910s, and then repeatedly through the 1920s, Curtis held up
its readership not only as an audience ripe for advertisers, but as a
measure of potential product consumption. Parlin and his staff concluded
that by taking subscriber addresses and charting them on a map, they
reasonably estimate the areas of a city and county that consumed the
products. "Curtis circulation parallels market opportunity," Parlin
group of musical instrument manufacturers in 1921. Two years later, in a
study titled "Where Do The Best Customers Live? A Study of Curtis
Distribution," the company used "representative towns" to show how Curtis
publications were distributed to the sections of town with the highest
incomes in a small city (Bloomington, Illinois), a county (McClean
Illinois), a minor city (Indianapolis) and a major city (Chicago). In
case, the company claimed to have more readers in what it called the "Red
Zone" -- the most-affluent areas -- than any other magazine. That was
a coincidence, it said, but rather the result of a twenty-five year
effort that it called "a perfectly selfish enterprise in every phase
development. We are anxious to build as large a volume of permanent
circulation as we can. We are anxious to have it among people who will
patronize our advertisers because our revenue comes from them and they
get their profits before we can get ours." By 1925, more than fifty
manufacturers, including the Corona Typewriter Company, Log Cabin
Parker Pen, Carnation Milk Products, Swift & Company, Home Appliance
Corporation, Coleman Lamp Company and Lever Brothers were setting sales
quotas based on Curtis circulation.
* * * * *
The stated intention for mapping circulation was to help manufacturers
determine the potential for their products, but the comparisons were
clearly aimed at helping Curtis magazines maintain their reputation as
invaluable sales tools. As such, there was a common denominator in
all of the company's market studies, as well as its promotional and
materials: exclusion. Publishers like Curtis were interested in
a growing middle class, a middle class that they saw as a homogenous
of white, and usually native-born, Americans whose genetic makeup and
inherent abilities had allowed them to rise to prosperity. These elites
were seen as different and disparate from the lower classes (the
class, as Parlin called them). Because of that, Curtis rejected from
target audience both blacks and immigrants from Eastern Europe, the
people that Parlin considered "worthless elements" and that the company
considered to have "lowered tastes." At one point, Curtis even
make a case that its readers were truly at the top of the evolutionary
ladder. "To the illiterate, the slovenly, the foreign-speaking, the
shiftless, the improvident, the appeal [of the Journal] is of no moment --
or, at least, not enough to warrant purchase," the company said in an
advertisement in 1912. "Those who can't read, those who won't read, and
those who can't afford to read are automatically excluded ..."
literacy and education had for years been measures of worth in American
society, but the divisiveness of class intensified with the growth of a
consumer society at the turn of the century. At the same time that
advertisers and publishers sought to tap into and promote a new middle
class, they used the methods of social science to exclude and
those who failed to share in the rewards of modern industrial
"As a whole, the colored peoples have fewer wants, lower standards of
iving, little material prosperity and are not generally responsive to
same influences as the whites," Curtis wrote in a primer on using
data in 1913. In 1922, the company reiterated its desire to reach
"worth-while white families." In developing a market index in 1923, the
Advertising Department explained that because among blacks and the
foreign-born there was a high percentage of illiteracy "and relatively low
average of buying power, it seemed fair to base a market index
native whites; but of the native whites some are ignorant and some lack
the means to buy merchandise of their choice. Hence it seemed that
it would be fairest to take one-half of the native whites as an index."
In other words, those people who could and did consume regularly were
considered among the valuable and the elite. Those who didn't, or
couldn't, were considered deficient, unable to improve themselves and their
quality of life through spending. The idea was circular: Those who
consumed succeeded, and those who succeeded consumed. Those who didn't
consume were cast aside like the packaging on the new name-brand
The tools of inclusion and exclusion were important to the arguments
Curtis Publishing made. By excluding large segments of the population
by defining the primary target audience as families instead of
it could create a smaller target audience and boost the percentage of the
audience its magazines reached, thereby giving the impression of
efficiency. That is, by excluding blacks and the foreign-born, it
reduce the U.S. population in the 1910s from about 100,000,000
to about 15,000,000 native-born white families, only about 9,000,000
which lived in the cities and suburbs -- what, in 1914, it considered
"accessible" areas of the country. Curtis then cut that 9,000,000 to
4,600,000 million by factoring in incomes, saying that advertisers should
target families earning $1,000 or more.
By defining its target audience and by narrowing the range of people it
wanted to reach, Curtis used an early form of niche marketing,
not the whole of the population but only those most likely to buy a
product. A market, in Curtis' terms, was only a fraction of the entire
population. "The job is to find out how large that minority is -- and
to reach that fraction without wasting money and effort on the
majority," the company wrote in its house organ in 1914. In marketing
product, it urged manufacturers to ask themselves three questions:
many people could use the product? How many of those people could
to buy the product? How many of those people could profitably be
by both advertising and mass distribution? "No product can support
intensive selling effort in every nook and cranny of the nation," the
company said. "The expense would be prohibitive. The problem is to
determine what to reject -- what classes of the population, what
geographical sections, what avenues of trade -- then to concentrate selling
effort on the rest. This demands, above all, careful study of the
* * * * *
Although the company didn't include recent immigrants in the same class as
native-born Americans in the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s, its perception of
immigrants changed considerably in the early 1920s after the Division
Commercial Research made a study of the Pilsen district of Chicago.
described the Pilsen area as populated by Bohemians, Poles, Magyars,
Swedes and other nationalities, "each with a racial consciousness. This
district is not only foreign itself; it is surrounded by districts
ss foreign than itself." The company sold few magazines in the area,
the researchers found that Pilsen residents bought just as many
advertised canned goods as did residents of such affluent areas as
Park and Evanston. Parlin and his associates reasoned that immigrants
first shopped at stores that stocked products from their home countries,
but then gravitated toward branded goods to make themselves feel more
American. Word about advertised products spread by word of mouth through
the streets, Parlin wrote. Someone in a neighborhood might read a
and then pass information on to a friend. Or a child or an acquaintance
might work in another section of town and bring back news about
they had seen others use. "Upon the mind of the American, accustomed
hour to learn from the printed page, the manufacturer's message quickly
registers an impression. Upon the mind of the laborer, accustomed to
heeding only verbal orders, the spoken word is potent. The foreign
is trained to heed what people say. He buys, for the most part, what
someone tells him to buy. The advertising medium that reaches him is
spoken recommendation of his neighbors."
The key observation, regardless of the explanation, was that immigrants
did indeed buy. The people in the foreign districts were still
to a great degree, defined in disparaging terms, in part because they
didn't read Curtis magazines. They couldn't be valued nearly as much as
those in the affluent sections of town who were loyal subscribers.
biases and fears about foreigners didn't disappear when Curtis Publishing
discovered that they actually bought consumer goods, but in the eyes
Parlin and his associates, immigrants were seen in a slightly better
They consumed, and better yet, they consumed advertised goods. That, in
Curtis' view, made them a little less foreign and a little more
Curtis' definition of a "trickle-down" market extended beyond the Pilsen
district of Chicago, and was a key element of its definition of rural
America in the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s. Like other publishers around the
country, Curtis began to devote increasing attention to rural areas in
1910s and 1920s. Mostly neglected in favor of city markets before
rural America was increasingly seen as offering the greatest potential
sales and representing, in many respects, the true national market.
lifting of the farm market to a new plane of earning and to a better
appreciation of good merchandise seems to us the most encouraging factor
not only for 1920 but for years to come," Parlin said in 1920. To
understand the dynamics of rural America, Curtis sent a team of more
dozen people from its advertising department to Sabetha, Kansas, in 1920.
Sabetha was chosen as a "typical" agricultural community from among
hundreds of "progressive" communities that Curtis considered in Kansas,
Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri. The Curtis
representatives visited all the businesses and all but twenty of the
homes in a 144-mile radius of Sabetha. Through interviews and
ons, the company assembled a broad study of consumption, one that tried
understand the importance of such things as merchandising, national
advertising, community leaders, brand names and the automobile on purchases
in a small farm town. Still at the center, though, were Curtis magazines.
In writing the study, Parlin concluded that nine out of ten of the
community leaders, whose opinions were seen as essential to the spread of
any consumer product, read Curtis magazines. The Post, the Journal
Country Gentleman reached these upper-class people -- people who were
"materially above the average" and had such things as indoor bathrooms,
vacuum cleaners and automobiles. These types of people not only read
Curtis magazines, but they purchased or asked for the products
in the magazines. Others in the community, he said, looked to these
leaders as role models and usually emulated their purchasing decisions.
"The three dimensions of Curtis circulation -- large numbers, quality
homes, and superior attention -- enable a manufacturer through the pages
the Curtis publications to shape the thoughts of readers and dealers, and
through them, of the masses who imitate," Parlin wrote. In other
Curtis publications didn't reach everyone, but they did reach the
people. For Curtis, that meant readers who had influence in the
and who considered advertised products to be of higher quality.
words, a reader who would spread consumption.
* * * * *
In 1913, Curtis Publishing told its advertisers that magazine circulation
had three key elements: the appeal of its editorial matter; the
which the publication was sold; and the standard to which the
advertisements were held. By 1920, Charles Coolidge Parlin,
manager of the
company's Division of Commercial Research, had revised that formula.
Magazine circulation still had three facets. Parlin likened it to a
with the three dimensions made up of the size of the circulation, the
wealth of the readers, and the attention that readers gave the
The new theme was similar to the old, but reflected the growing
recognition and importance of readers. Readers no longer provided the
primary means of monetary support for a publication, but they provided
something far more important for a twentieth century publisher: a mass
market. Through its research, Curtis shaped the image of its audience
be most appealing to manufacturers of consumer goods. It stripped the
individuality from the readers of its magazines, reducing them to
statistics of income, education and location -- characteristics intended
to portray them as eager buyers.
In its research and in its promotional material, Curtis Publishing
portrayed its magazines as both "mass" and "class" publications. That is,
to companies such as soap manufacturers, which wanted to reach as wide
audience as possible, Curtis could stress the millions of readers its
magazines reached -- the largest audiences available during the first
decades of the twentieth century. To the makers of pianos or
who had fewer products to sell and who needed to reach people with
Curtis stressed the "quality" of its circulation -- an affluent group
readers who paid full price for the magazines, responded to
bought brand-name products. In both cases, it used readership studies and
statistics from Commercial Research and the federal government to try to
prove to manufacturers and advertising agencies that Curtis
were the best medium for their advertising dollars because they
people most likely to buy. In doing so, it carved a niche in the mass
market while maintaining its reputation as the publisher of the
Readership research emerged during the budding consumer culture of the
early twentieth century, and the commercial values that developed
that era helped shape publications' perceptions of readers. Although
magazines and newspapers today try to distance decisions about editorial
matter from the outward commercialism of advertising and circulation,
ties are as inextricable as they were at the turn of the century.
Practical handbooks and trade journals tell editors to think of the reader.
Editors encourage reporters to write for the reader. Today, with
readership dwindling, "reader-friendly" has become a buzzword for an
amorphous list of content, design and writing characteristics that every
newspaper and magazine is encouraged to follow. Newspapers and
alike rely on readership research to learn about their shortcomings
shape and target content to such groups as "occasional readers,"
readers" and "non-readers." The wants of the reader have become one of
the guiding principals -- if not the guiding principal -- of
century journalism. Even as journalists attempt to distance themselves
from their co-workers in the advertising department, though, they
to follow practices and styles rooted in commercialism. The
survey has been chief among them. Although such surveys have been used
help make decisions about news, the surveys themselves had their
in advertising, among publishers like Curtis, who sought to enhance the
value of their magazines and newspapers by providing detailed
about readership to their all-important advertisers. As readers
increasingly became consumers, a publication's readership increasingly
became a commodity -- a product to be defined, studied and sold.
 "Thirty Years of Service," Obiter Dicta, No. 5, November-Decemb
er 1913, pp.
 Curtis wasn't the only publication to
make such claims. Good Housekeeping, for
d itself as a "magazine whose advertising pages, as well
ts editorial pages, keep `clean company,' wins the confidence of its
readers -- and, therefore, results for its advertisers." It guaran
products advertised within its pages and set up the Good Houseke
Institute to test those products starting about 1909.
Like Curtis' policy
of "censorship," the Good Housekeeping st
amp of approval was intended to
make readers more comfortable
with the magazine and its advertising and to
build a trust s
o that readers would be more apt to buy the products
ed. "In guaranteeing its advertising pages to readers," the
magazine said, "Good Housekeeping Magazine guarantees reader-confidence to
advertisers." See "Clean Company," Printers' Ink, July 13, 1
911, p. 16;
and "Waldo Joins New York `Tribune,'" PI, Aug. 20
, 1914, p. 12.
 Selling Forces (Philadelphia: Curtis Publishing Compan
y, 1913), pp.
217-218, 241-244. The same sort of reasoning r
esonates in Curtis' house
organ from 1913 to 1915, and in its
advertising and promotional material
from the 1880s into the
1920s. See, for example, various advertisements in
Curtis Scrapbook, c.
1880-1890. Curtis Publishing Company Papers, Special
Collections, Van P
elt Library, University of Pennsylvania (Hereafter, CP),
Box 179; "The Tr
eatment of Cuts," Obiter Dicta 1 (May 1913), pp. 9-12; as
l as such advertisements in Printers' Ink as "The Value of the Fittest,"
PI, May 30, 1912, p. 23; "Natural Selection," PI, July 11, 1912, p. 21;
"160 Thousand Letters," PI, May 7, 1914, p. 21; and "Where Trade
PI, May 27, 1915, pp. 17-20. Likewise, in 1905, Calkins and
the Journal as an example of a publication that w
as read by a
"discriminating class." See Earnest Elmo Calkins
and Ralph Holden, Modern
Advertising (New York: D. Appleton a
nd Company, 1905), pp. 71-72.
 George Horace Lorimer, "Business Polici
es of the Saturday Evening Post," contained in
"Dope Book," ca. 1920-1923
, CP, Box 130. The unbound pages in the box are not numbered.
 "A Lis
t of Authors," PI, June 4, 1914, p. 21.
 "The Country Gentleman," adve
rtisement, Advertising & Selling (October 1912),
 "The Political Influence of the Public Ledger," PI, June 5, 1913, p. 4
Public Ledger Does Not Believe ..." PI, Sept. 18, 19
13, p. 30.
 "Ninth Annual Conference of the Advertising Department of
Curtis Publishing Company,"
January 7-10, 1911, p. 336. CP, Box 16.
"Tenth Annual Conference of the Advertising Department of The Curtis Publ
Company," Oct. 29-31, 1913, pp. 38-39. CP, Box 17.
All three companies produced cars
that were among the most
-expensive sold at the time, and all three were struggling with
sales at the time. See Charles Coolidge Parlin and Henry Sherwood You
Vol. A, 1914. CP, Box 28.
S. Jordan, "A Strictly `Show-Me' Basis," PI, July 20, 1911, pp. 24-26.
1] As he did his market studies, Parlin talked with several businessmen wh
about duplication of circulation. For instanc
e, the proprietor of E.S. Paul & Co., a dry
goods and depar
tment store in Lewiston, Maine, said: "When a manufacturer sends you a
list of the people he reaches -- Saturday Evening Post so many
, Ladies' Home
Journal so many, Everybody's so many, etc., an
d then adds these up for a
total, that is bosh -- those are d
uplicates -- e.g., I take both the Post
and Ladies' Home Jour
nal." See Charles Coolidge Parlin, "Department Store
Textiles," Vol. B, 1912, p. 358. CP, Boxes 21 and 22.
 Curtis' Satur
day Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal dominated the
t, in both circulation and advertising revenue, from about the turn of
e century through the 1930s, and have been widely noted for its
importance in American journalism. Tebbel and Zuckerman call the Post "
bible of middle-class America" in the early twentieth century. Mott
Cyrus Curtis a "bold and brilliant advertiser and promoter" and cre
Curtis' willing to advertise for much of the circulation
success of his
magazines. Frank Luther Mott, American Journ
alism: A History of Newspapers
in the United States Through 250 Years, 16
90 to 1940 (New York: Macmillan,
1947), pp. 512, 591, 655-659; Mott, A Hi
story of American Magazines
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer
sity Press, 1957), Vol. 2, pp. 432-436;
Vol. 4, pp. 671-716,
536-555; John Tebbel and Mary Ellen Zuckerman, The
n America, 1741-1990 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991),
 See, for instance, David Paul Nord, "Working Class Rea
ders: Family, Community, and
Reading in Late Nineteenth-Cen
tury America." Communication Research 13 (April
1; Nord, "A Republican Literature: Magazine Reading and
rs in Late-Eighteenth Century New York," in Reading in America, ed.
Cathy N. Davidson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989);
Michael Denning, Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-C
lass Culture in
America. London: Verso, 1987; Janice Radway, Reading the
Patriarch, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hil
l: University of North
Carolina Press, 1991; and Lawrence W.
Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The
Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy
in America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1988
; and Richard D. Brown, Knowledge is Power: The
Information in Early America, 1700-1865. New York: Oxford
versity Press, 1989.
 William Leach, Land of Desire: Merchants, Power
and the Rise of a New
American Culture (New York: Pantheon,
1993). Between 1909 and 1929, the
U.S. population increased a
bout a third, from nearly 90,500,000 to just
. During the same time, circulation of weekly periodicals
se by 73.5%, to 34,495,000, and the amount spent on such consumable items
as food, beverages, clothing, personal care, furniture, fuel and utilities
rose 174%, to $78,952,000. See Historical Statistics of the United State
Colonial Times to 1957 (Washington: Bureau of Census, 1958).
rald J. Baldasty, The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth
Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).
I. Susman, Culture as History: The Transformation of American
Society in the Twentieth Century (New York: Pantheon, 1984).
m R. Taylor, In Pursuit of Gotham: Culture and Commerce in New York
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), Chapter 5.
Wrightman Fox and T.J. Jackson Lears, eds., The Culture of
sumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980 (New York:
Pantheon, 1983); Fox and Lears, eds., The Power of Culture (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1993).
 Jan Cohn, Creatin
g America: George Horace Lorimer and The Saturday
t (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989).
 Mott, A Histor
y of American Magazines. Sketches of the Post and
pear in Vol. 4, pp. 536-555, 671-716.
 Richard W. Pollay, "Thank the
Editors for the Buyological Urge: American Magazines,
tising and the Promotion of the Consumer Culture, 1920-1980," in Marketing
Long Run: Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Histor
ical Research in
Marketing, ed. Stanley C. Hollander and Tere
nce Nevett (East Lansing:
Michigan State University, 1985).
 Christopher P. Wilson, "The Rhetoric of Consumption: Mass Market Maga
zines and the
Demise of the Gentle Reader, 1880-1920," in T
he Culture of Consumption, pp. 40-64.
 Tebbel and Zuckerman, The Maga
zine in America, 1741-1990, pp. 81-97,
J. Kreshel, "Toward a Cultural History of Advertising Research: A Case Stu
of J. Walter Thompson, 1908-1925," Ph.D. dissertation, U
niversity of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, 1989; also see K
reshel, "Advertising Research in the Pre-Depression Year
A Cultural History," Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising
15 (Spring 1993): 59-75; "John B. Watson at J. Walter Thompso
Legitimation of `Science' in Advertising," Journal of
(1990): 49-59; and "The `Culture' of J. Walter
Thompson, 1915-1925," Public
Relations Review 16 (Fall 1990): 80-93.
5] See, for instance, Milton J. Blair, "Where Do The Best Customers Live?
A Study of
Curtis Distribution" (Curtis Chicago office, May
1, 1923). CP, Box 81; and "Growth of
Incomes," Curtis "Dop
 "Prosperous Philadelphia," advertisement, PI, Dec. 2, 1915,
pp. 57-68; "A
Christmas Pudding for Advertisers," advertisem
ent, PI, Dec. 16, 1915, pp.
53-56; "Two New Subways in Philad
elphia," advertisement, PI, Dec. 23, 1915,
p. 47; untitled advertisement,
PI, Aug. 19, 1915, pp. 52-53; "What gives
value to advertisi
ng?" advertisement, PI, Nov. 18, 1915, pp. 42-43.
 "Condensed Report
of Advertising Conference," Curtis Publishing Company,
adelphia, 1915, pp. 6-8. CP, Box 18.
 Selling Forces (Philadelphia: C
urtis Publishing Company, 1913), pp.
225-241; William V. Alex
ander to Mr. E.G.W. Dietrich, Feb. 29, 1904. CP,
Box 2; "Pat
tern Service," Curtis Bulletin 32 (Nov. 7, 1923). CP, Box 158,
Folder 176; Pollay, "Thank the Editors"; Wilson, "The Rhetoric of
 "Condensed Report of Advertising Conference,"
 See various clippings and advertisements in a Curtis Scra
pbook, pp. 324-340.
 Curtis Scrapbook, pp. 324-340.
 See, for i
nstance, Charles Coolidge Parlin, "Agricultural Implements," 1911. CP,
Box 19; Parlin, "Department Store Lines: Textiles," Vol. B; Pa
rlin and Henry Sherwood
Youker, "Automobiles," vol. 1B, 191
4. CP, Box 30; and Parlin and Youker, "Food Products
ousehold Supplies," Vols. B and C, 1915. CP, Boxes 39, 40.
 In Selli
ng Forces in 1913, Curtis said that 3,000 merchants were asked
by an impartial investigator (presumably Parlin): "What periodicals are
mentioned most by your customers when referring to advertised
those respondents, 679 said the Journal, 675 said
the Post, and many said
both. See Selling Forces, p. 241.
34] "Tenth Annual Conference," p. 36; "Department Store Lines: Textiles,"
Vol. B, pp.
131-136; "Attitudes Toward The Ladies Home Jour
nal and The Saturday Evening
Post as Advertising Mediums," 19
16. CP, Box 45.
 Many merchants considered Curtis publications requi
red reading because they knew
that their customers read the
magazines and would begin asking for the products they saw
advertised. "I don't want to flatter your publication," an Ohio merchant
"but somehow the people have such confidence i
n what they see advertised in the columns of
the Ladies' Home Journal and
the Post, that we have to carry them. I take
ons and read the `ads,' for I know that after a thing has
eared two or three times on one of these magazines it will be called
for." A drapery buyer for a large department store considered the
"a necessity next only to the Bible. The customers a
re very well educated
on quality now, and unless a salesman t
horoughly understands his job, the
customer will know more ab
out it than he will. ..."
 It is difficult, if not impossible, to det
ermine when the first readership study was
done. In most cases, the docu
ments were confidential, and would not have been widely
tributed outside the companies that had done the research. Both Leo Bogart
Nord estimate that newspapers began doing audien
ce studies in the 1930s. The Curtis
surveys were done in t
he 1910s. Even so, others conducted readership research before
Curtis. Walter Dill Scott of Northwestern University surveyed Chicago
readers for his book Psychology of Adverti
sing in 1908. In 1911, R.O. Eastman
of Kellogg's conducted h
is first study of magazine readers -- a post card
about fifty members of the Association of National Advertising
Managers. See Leo Bogart, Press and Public: Who Reads What, When, Where,
and Why in American Newspapers, 2nd ed. (Hillsdale, N.J.: La
1989), p. 76; Nord, "The Children of Isaiah Thomas: Notes
Historiography of Journalism and of the Book in Ameri
ca," Occasional Papers
in the History of the Book in American Culture 1 (
American Antiquarian Society), p. 19; Lawre
nce C. Lockley, "Notes on the
History of Marketing Research,"
Journal of Marketing 14 (April 1950):
733-736; C.S. Duncan,
Commercial Research (New York: Macmillan, 1919), pp.
Robert Bartels, The Development of Marketing Thought (Homewood,
Ill.: Richard D. Irwin, 1962); W.D. Scott, The Psychology of Advertisin
(Boston: Small, Maynard & Scott, 1908).
 Although no
readership study of the Journal was done until the 1920s, the
Curtis advertising department was directed in 1915 to analyze the
magazine's editorial correspondence, presumably to gain more-specific
information about readers. See "Condensed Report of Adverti
Conference," p. 13.
 Goulden says Country Gentlema
n was profitable for only twelve of the
forty-five years Curt
is owned it. The company killed the publication in
. He also says advertiser support of the Public Ledger never kept
h the spending on an extensive and expensive worldwide news
rganization that Curtis had formed. See Joseph C. Goulden, The Curtis
Caper (New York: G.P. Putnam Sons, 1965), pp. 36, 80.
Inquiry Among Readers of the Country Gentleman," Vol. A, 1916. CP, Box 46.
 "The Country Gentleman Questionnaire," 1920. CP, Box 68.
"Announcement in the Country Gentleman," Curtis "Dope Book." The announcem
is in the form of a letter dated April 29, 1921. The c
ontest offered $50 for the best
letter, $25 for second plac
e, $10 for the next five, and $5 for the next ten. The company
4,463 replies, which it tabulated by sex, number written by typewriter,
occupation, reasons and features preferred.
 Digests of
Principal Research Department Studies, Vols. I and II
elphia: Curtis Publishing Company, 1946). CP, Box 119.
 The Public Le
dger survey was done solely by interview. Company
tives conducted more than nine hundred interviews in the
adelphia region during 1919 and 1920. The most extensive interviews
were done with businessmen, political figures, labor leaders, profe
and teachers, and women considered to have influence.
were done with newspaper sellers and distrib
 "The Public Ledger Report," Vol. B, 1920; "Daily Newspaper In
July 6, 1904, pp. 1-7. A reprint of the ar
ticle can be found in John M.
Hein, ed., "Notes and Reference
s Relating to the History of Philadelphia
delphia: Free Library, 1937); Edward W. Bok, A Man From
(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1923), pp. 197-212; Oswald
Garrison Villard, The Disappearing Daily (New York: Books for Libraries
Press, 1969; reprint of 1946 edition), pp. 218-228; Elwyn B.
Public Ledger: An Independent Newspaper," Pennsylvania Mag
azine of History
and Biography 64 (January 1940): 43-55; Kenneth Stewart
and John Tebbel,
Makers of Modern Journalism (New York: Prent
ice-Hall, 1952), pp. 199-216;
"Public Ledger Ends Career of 9
8 Years," Philadelphia Inquirer?, 1934,
Inquirer clip file, "
Public Ledger"; "Curtis's Newspaper Dynasty Grew from
Beginning," Evening Bulletin, Jan. 6, 1942, Inquirer clip file,
"Public Ledger"; "Cyrus Curtis In Daily Field," The Fourth Estate, Jan.
1913, p. 2; "New Daily Paper In Philadelphia," The Fourth
Estate, Sept. 12,
1914, p. 3; "Evening Ledger in Philadelphia," The Fourt
h Estate, Sept. 19,
1914, p. 2.
 "The Public Ledger Report," Vol. B
, pp. 308-359.
 "Tenth Annual Conference," pp. 13-36. Selling Forces
, pp. 210-213.
 See, for example, "Retail Dry Goods and Ready-to-Wear
"; "Department Store Centers,"
"Market for Electrical Merch
andise," "Rental Analysis in the City of Chicago"; and "Market
y," all in the Curtis "Dope Book."
 Curtis said that 4.9% of readers
subscribed to both the Post and Country
Gentleman and 5.9% su
bscribed to both the Journal and Country Gentleman.
plication of Circulation Among Post and Country Gentleman
scribers," and "Duplication of Circulation Among Journal and Country
Gentleman Subscribers," Curtis "Dope Book."
 "City A and City
B: A Story of Circulation Based on an Every Home Survey of Two
Cities," 1925-1926. CP, Box 84.
 "Women's Interest in the Satur
day Evening Post," Curtis Bulletin 88
(April 22, 1927). CP,
Box 161, Folder 209.
 "Industrial Executives and Technical Men Prefer
the Post," Curtis Bulletin 98
(1928). CP, Box 162, Folder 2
 "Dear Mr. Parlin"; "Will an Advertisement Pull Better in a Large
Issue or a Small
One?" Curtis Bulletin 91 (July 22, 1927).
CP, Box 161, Folder 212.
 Digests of Principal Research Department S
tudies, Vol. II, p. 11.
 "The `Number of Readers,' in Proportion to C
irculation," Curtis Bulletin 60 (April
8, 1925). CP, Box 1
60, Folder 190.
 "The Reading Habits of Saturday Evening Post Readers
," Curtis Bulletin 68 (Dec. 25,
1925). CP, Box 160, Folder
195. The survey was conducted in Boston, Springfield, Mass.,
Hartford, Conn., and Westchester County, New York. Of the sixty-one pe
35% said they spent considerably more tim
e reading the Post than they had five years
earlier, about ha
lf said they spent the same amount of time, and 14% said
. The average time spent with each issue was about 1 1/2 hours, with
at least 15 minutes on ad pages; 60% said they read the ad pages f
 "Reader Responsiveness," Curtis Bulletin 94 (Oct. 28, 1927). C
P, Box 161, Folder
 "The Demand for The Post," C
urtis Bulletin 106 (December 1928). CP, Box 162, Folder
sts of Principal Research Department Studies, (Philadelphia:
Curtis Publishing Company, 1946), Vol. II, pp. 31, 72, 124-125.
Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia: Curtis Publishing Co., c.
1930). CP, Box 140.
 For instance, a group made up of executives,
professionals, merchants and
shopkeepers, and retired perso
ns accounted for 69.62% of readers but only 11.89% of the
opulation. A second group made up of salesmen, skilled trades, office cleri
agriculture and students accounted for 28.89% of reade
rs and 54.55% of the population. A
third group of public se
rvice employees, unskilled labor, domestic and personal service
occupations accounted for on 1.49% of readers and 33.56% of the popula
 "Looking Ahead," typescript, c. 1931. CP, Box 140.
ests of Principal Research Department Studies, Vols. I and II;
Charles Coolidge Parlin, "Music Master" address, typescript, c. 1921.
Curtis papers, Box 148, Folder 30.
 Blair, "Where Do The
Best Customers Live?"
 Parlin, "Music Master" address; Parlin, untitl
ed address, January 1926; Parlin,
untitled address, Common
Brick Association, typescript, 1925. CP, Box 149, Folder 56;
Parlin, untitled address, American Management Association, typescript, A
pril 23, 1925.
Box 149, Folder 54; "Some Manufacturers Who
Use the Curtis Quota Plan," Bulletin 61 (April
22, 1925). Box 160, Fold
 Parlin, "Department Store Lines: Textiles," Vol. B, pp. 35-3
8; "What gives value to
 "The Value of
the Fittest," advertisement, PI, May 30, 1912, p. 23; "Natural
Selection," advertisement, PI, July 11, 1912, p. 21.
 Blacks recogn
ized this economic prejudice and attempted to act on it around the turn
f the century. August Meier notes that some black leaders thought that if
achieve high economic status and high moral ch
aracter, whites would recognize their worth
and allow them
their rights and participation in the political process. During
Reconstruction, elite leaders, who had some financial stability, stre
ssed political and
civil rights and the importance of educa
tion. Economic improvement was a lower priority.
The masses, who had li
ttle economically, sought land ownership, education and politics,
in that order -- the reverse order of what the elite sought. See Au
gust Meier, Negro
Thought in America, 1880-1915 (Ann Arbor: U
niversity of Michigan Press,
1969), pp. 8-15, 25-35.
arlin, untitled address to Western Company, typescript, Feb. 16, 1923. CP,
149, Folder 42; "Population Reduced to its Lowest Term
s -- An Estimate," Obiter Dicta 9
(December 1914), pp. 3-13;
Parlin, "Department Store Lines: Textiles," vol.
B, pp. 44-56; Parlin, Th
e Merchandising of Textiles (Philadelphia:
National Dry Goods
Association, n.d.). CP, Box 150, Folder 109; "Sales
and City Markets," Curtis Bulletin 32 (November 7, 1923). CP, Box
158, Folder 176.
 "Population Reduced to its Lowest Terms -- An
 "Population Reduced to its Lowest Terms -- An Estimate."
 Parlin, untitled address to Western Company, typescript, Feb. 16, 1
923. CP, Box
149, Folder 42; Parlin, "National Advertising
and How It Fits in With Local Advertising
for the Jobber a
nd Dealer," typescript, June 4, 1924. Folder 49 (A published version of
the speech appeared in The Reminder, a monthly publication of
Supply Jobbers Association.); Parlin, "Addres
s," typescript, May 5, 1924.
Folder 47. Also see various ch
arts and information in "Dope Book."
 Digests of Principal Research D
epartment Studies, vol. 1 (1911-1925),
pp. 2-3; and vol. 2 (1
926-1940), p. 2. Curtis papers, Box 118; Parlin,
of Prosperity in 1920 (Philadelphia: Curtis Publishing Company,
urtis papers, Box 148, Folder 13. Also see, for example, "Retail
Business, Sabetha, Kansas," which breaks sales down for 1919, 1921, 19
"Curtis Circulation" shows map of Sabetha, along with eac
h residence and
who subscribes; "Growth of Incomes," which ch
arts income growth based on
income tax returns from 1915 to 1
921; and "Farms and Farm Wealth," which
broke down the countr
y into regions and states and charted income and
are from the Curtis "Dope Book."
 "An Agricultural Trading Center: A
report on some facts of national significance
gleaned in a
survey of Sabetha, Kansas," 1920. CP, Box 63.
 Selling Forces, pp.
 "An Agricultural Trading Center," p. 56; "The Public Ledger
Report," Vol. B.
 See Selling Forces, pp. 210-218.