The W. Atlee Burpee & Company records, dated circa 1873-1986, document the firm's business activities developing plant varieties, working with contract seedsmen, and marketing and selling seeds. They include seed trial records, seed contracts, sales and acccounting records, inventories, office correspondence, seed catalogs, promotional and instructional materials, advertisements and advertising reports, contest letters, daybooks, photographs, reference materials, and other items relating to the company and some of its competitors. The collection also includes Burpee family papers.
This collection documents W. Atlee Burpee & Co., a mail-order seed company based in Philadelphia, from its early beginnings in 1876 when its founder, W. Atlee Burpee, started in the agricultural business, to the 1970s when his son, David Burpee, sold the firm. The collection also includes personal papers of the Burpee family dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.
Business-related content in the collection consists of crop propagation and management records; company correspondence; administrative and personnel records; advertising files; legal papers; property records and plans; reports, studies, and technical data; notes and drafts; files on professional outreach activities and events; trade literature (published by both the Burpee company and a number of its competitors); and awards and certificates received by the company. Significant topics documented in these files include the development of notable flower and vegetable varieties introduced by the company; the impact of World Wars I and II on gardening and the global seed trade; advertising strategies, technology, and innovation; and David Burpee's advocacy of the marigold as the national floral emblem of the United States.
The Burpee family papers consist of personal files unrelated to the company's business operations. These include records generated by W. Atlee's father (David Burpee, 1827-1882) and grandfather (Washington L. Atlee, 1808-1878), as well as W. Atlee's wife, Blanche (1863-1948); David Burpee (1893-1980) and his wife, Lois (1912-1984); and W. Atlee Burpee II (1894-1966). There are genealogical surveys conducted on both the Atlee and Burpee families as well as clippings about family members. W. Atlee and David Burpee's series are the most extensive, and cover their involvement with numerous social and philanthropic clubs and organizations. The series include personal correspondence; financial, accounting, and tax records; travel-related files; reference material; and will and estate papers.
The Burpee collection also has a large number of images related to the Burpee business and family in a variety of formats including photographs, film and glass plate negatives, and advertisement mock-ups. Other formats include architectural and site plans, original artwork for advertisements, films, cassettes, audio tapes, and ephemera.
Collection is arranged into six series:
Series 1: Plant/Farm Related Material
Series 2: Business Records
Series 3: Material Published About the Burpee Company
Series 4: Awards and Certificates
Series 5: Photographic and A/V Materials
Series 6: Burpee Family Papers
The collection's original order was maintained wherever possible, though many records were found scattered throughout the collection and artificial files were necessarily created for them.
Most files are arranged chronologically or alphabetically by person or topic.
Various photographs interspersed in correspondence files were kept where they were originally found. All other photographic and audio/visual materials found on their own were grouped in Series 5 Photographic and A/V Material which documents aspects of both the Burpee company and Burpee family.
Biographical / Historical:
Washington Atlee Burpee (1858-1915) began a mail-order poultry and livestock business in 1876 in Philadelphia, which he soon expanded to include corn seed for chicken feed. In 1878, he founded W. Atlee Burpee & Co. to sell livestock and vegetable, fruit, and flower seeds through the mail. His company went on to become one of the most notable seed distributors in the world.
In 1888, W. Atlee bought a tract of land named Fordhook Farms in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It was initially established as an experimental farm to test and evaluate new varieties of vegetables and flowers and to produce seeds for the mail-order market. Burpee spent many summers traveling throughout the United States and Europe visiting farms and searching for the best flowers and vegetables. Certain plants he found were shipped back to the firm for testing and propagation; other seeds were obtained through contracts with growers throughout the U.S., a practice common in the seed industry at that time. Promising varieties were bred with healthier specimens to produce hardier hybrids that were more resistant to disease. Other Burpee trial grounds were later established at Sunnybrook Farm near Swedesboro, New Jersey, and at Floradale Farms in Lompoc, California (1909/1910). The company went on to purchase more land for farming in California, and established sales branch headquarters in Sanford, Florida (circa 1930s), Clinton, Iowa (1942), and Riverside, California (1949).
W. Atlee Burpee married Blanche Simons (1863-1948) in 1892. They had three sons: David (1893-1980); W. Atlee Jr. ("Junior") (1894-1966); and Stuart Alexander (1901-1934). Both David and Junior attended the Blight School in Philadelphia for elementary school and Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana for preparatory school. While they both attended Cornell University as undergraduates, they left before graduating due to W. Atlee's poor health. Junior married Jeanetta Lee (1893-1981) in November, 1916, and they had two children: W. Atlee III (1917-1971) and Jeanette (1919-2002). David married Lois Torrance (1912-1984) in 1938, and they had two children: Johnathan (b. 1941) and Blanche (b. 1943). Stuart Alexander was apparently born with a disability; according to census records he worked on farms during his lifetime.
David Burpee took over the family business upon his father's death in 1915; W. Atlee Burpee, Jr. served as treasurer of the firm once he returned from serving in the military. At that time, the Burpee company had 300 employees and was the largest mail-order seed company in the world. It distributed over one million catalogs a year and received on average 10,000 orders a day. Under David's tutelage, the company adapted to contemporaneous shifts in business and advertising methods, advancements in plant science, ever-changing consumer demands, and two World Wars. In response to food shortages experienced during World War I, the Burpee company helped promote a "war gardens" campaign that evolved into a "victory gardens" campaign during World War II.
Both W. Atlee and David used their position as head of a major seed house to lobby congressional debates in regard to two topics: postage rates (W. Atlee) and the designation of a national floral emblem for the United States (David). Both men belonged to The Union League of Philadelphia and The Canadian Society of Philadelphia (which W. Atlee helped found), and served on the boards of directors for hospitals and other charitable organizations. Both father and son were politically aligned with the Republican Party.
The firm reorganized its governing structure in 1917 at which time it changed its name from W. Atlee Burpee & Co. to W. Atlee Burpee Co. Burpee's acquired three seed companies between 1878 and 1970: Luther Burbank Seed Company, James Vick's Seeds, Inc., and the William Henry Maule Company. David Burpee sold the company to the General Foods Corporation in 1970 and served as a consultant for the business until 1973. The Burpee brand was bought by its current owner, George J. Ball, Inc., in 1991.
The project to process the W. Atlee Burpee & Co. Records received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and
the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Burpee seed catalogs donated to the Smithsonian in 1982 by the W. Atlee Burpee Co. can be found in the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History.
The Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division includes a series of images of Burpee company operations taken in 1943.
The Black Gold Cooperative Library System's Asian/Pacific - Americans on the Central Coast Collection includes images dated 1933-1939 of Japanese employees of the Burpee Co. working at Floradale Farms in Lompoc, California.
Access to original archival materials by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: email@example.com.
Collection consists of Cadillace salemen's data books and automobile advertisements.
Scope and Contents:
The collection contains guidebooks issued to Cadillac salesmen containing images of vehicles, and data on the specifications, options and features of the vehicles. Many of the books contain upholstery samples from which buyers could choose. Also included are color print advertisements for luxury vehicles, including Cadillac, Packard, Willys-Knight, Nash, Chrysler, and Hupmobile; and advertising booklets for consumers extolling the features of the new models of Lincoln and Lincoln Mercury vehicles, 1956-1986;
Collection is arranged into two series.
Series 1: Cadillac salesmen's books, 1963-1978
Series 2: Automobile trade literature, 1920s-1986.
Collection donated by John R. Anderson, 2016.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Marlboro Oral History and Documentation Project is the result of a two-year effort supported in part by a gift from Philip Morris, Inc. Sixty oral history interviews and a variety of television commercials, print advertising, promotional materials, packaging, and industry publications were gathered to document Marlboro cigarette advertising. The bulk of the collection focuses on the period between 1954 and 1986, and examines the "Marlboro man", "Settle Back" and "Marlboro Country" campaigns. The collection is a rich source of information for researchers interested in advertising and marketing history, issues of smoking and health, and the export of both tobacco and American cultural symbols abroad.
The core of the collection is a series of interviews conducted during 1985-1987 by Dr. Scott Ellsworth, an independent scholar and oral historian. The broad range of interviewees included executives of Philip Morris, advertising agency personnel from Leo Burnett, photographers, production staff, sales and marketing personnel, and Marlboro cowboys.
Twenty-seven interviews were conducted overseas, in Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and West Germany. Conducted primarily with Marlboro licensee and affiliate staff, the interviews focus on the marketing and advertising history of Marlboro in the six nations. These interviews and others conducted with executives of Philip Morris International in New York City also address the history of Marlboro advertising in Africa, the Middle East, China, Eastern Europe and elsewhere in Europe and Latin America.
The interviews cover events from the 1930s through the 1980s. They focus on the theory and development of Marlboro advertising, its content and creation, and its modifications over the years. The foreign interviews also discuss the structure of the local cigarette marketplace, marketing and advertising techniques, and the use and modification of Marlboro advertising for different cultures.
Finding aids to the oral histories include abstracts of each interview indicating the major topic discussed, a cumulative index to personal names and topics in the interviews, and brief biographical and scope notes.
Dthe collection is divided into seven series.
Series 1: Research Files, 1943-1987
Series 2, Interviewee Files, 1986
Series 3; Oral History Interviews, 1986
Series 4: Advertising Materials, 1926-1986
Series 5: Promotional items and packaging, 1926-1986
Series 6: Publications and Research Material, 1960-1988
Series 7: Travel Slides Generated by Project Team, 1926-1986
Biographical / Historical:
The history of Marlboro cigarettes offers insight into one of the great advertising and marketing success stories of the 20th century. Marlboro cigarettes were marketed from the Victorian era through the first half of this century as a women's cigarette, with tag-lines that aimed to appeal to female smokers, such as "Marlboro - Mild As May." In 1955, two transformations occurred which would affect both profitability and brand recognition: the addition of an integrated filter and the re-invention of the market through the debut of the "Marlboro Man" advertising campaign. The original Marlboro Man campaign featured close-up images of all kinds of men using the product -- the cowboy was one, along with lifeguards, sailors, drill sergeants, construction workers, gamblers and other types suggestive of a masculine spirit and rugged independence. By 1963, the "Marlboro Country" campaign began. This campaign focused on the cowboy and his symbolic canon: boots, hats, horses, and western landscapes. By the mid-1980s, Marlboro was the best-selling brand in the United States and the world, and the Marlboro cowboy was among the most widely recognized of American cultural symbols. Sold in over 180 nations, both the cigarettes and the ad campaign had become a global phenomena.
The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Philip Morris, Inc. in 1986.
The materials in the Marlboro Collection are made available for research according to the established practices and principles of the Archives Center and the National Museum of American History.
In making these materials available for research, the Smithsonian Institution makes no claims of ownership of the copyrights or related rights. All responsibility for infringement of legal authorship rights and or copyright is assumed by the user of the materials. In addition, the user indemnifies and holds harmless the Smithsonian Institution for all claims, actions, damages, judgments and expenses that may result from use of these materials.
In addition, the donor has imposed restrictions on reproduction or broadcast of collection materials by third parties. The reproduction or broadcast of print ads and television commercials in the collection is subject to prior written consent from: Nancy Lund, Vice President, Marketing,Philip Morris International, 120 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017;(917) 663-5000