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Peddler who goes from door to door, selling hardware and groceries. Woodstock, Vermont

Marion Post Wolcott, born Montclair, NJ 1910-died Santa Barbara, CA 1990  Search this
gelatin silver print
sheet: 11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm.)
1940, printed later
Landscape\season\winter  Search this
Occupation\vendor  Search this
Figure male\knee length  Search this
Architecture\vehicle\carriage  Search this
New Deal\Farm Security Administration  Search this
Landscape\Vermont\Woodstock  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Dr. John H. and Jann Arrington Wolcott
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Fuller Brush Company Records

Fuller Brush Company  Search this
32.5 Cubic feet (77 boxes, 1 map-folder)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Ledgers (account books)
Letters (correspondence)
Motion picture film
Printed materials
Programs (documents)
Sales catalogs
Sales records
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Training manuals
Financial statements
Market surveys
Business records
Connecticut -- Hartford
The collection documents the Fuller Brush Company founded by Alfred C. Fuller in 1906.
Content Description:
The collection documents the Fuller Brush Company from the early years of its existence. The contents include photographs; ledgers; correspondence; internal reports; manufacturing facility studies; quality control reports; financial statements; sales data; company newsletters, some loose and some in bound form; other internal publications; advertising; trade literature; product manuals; catalogs; training manuals and employee handbooks; company annual reports; convention programs and materials; films; materials relating to employee incentives; vinyl records of radio broadcasts; scripts, pressbooks, and other promotional material for motion pictures; informational audio-cassete tapes; contracts, trial testimonies, and other legal papers; industry surveys and marketing campaign proposals; and clippings and printed materials.
Collection is arranged into thirteen series. Unless otherwise noted, material is arranged chronologically.

Series 1: Historical background, 1916-2001

Series 2: Corporate records, 1917-2010 (bulk 1973-1976)

Series 3: Marketing, 1941-2013

Series 4: Operational records, 1913-1976 (bulk 1969-1976)

Series 5: Financial materials, 1919-1996

Series 6: Personnel, 1922-1984

Series 7: Sales managers, 1922-1990

Series 8: Distributors, 1921-2006

Series 9: Publications, 1920-1999

Series 10: Product materials, 1912-2017

Series 11: Photographs, circa 1890-2000

Series 12: Press Clippings and Publicity, 1921-2010

Series 13: The Fuller Brush Man and The Fuller Brush Girl, 1947-1953, 2004 (bulk 1947-1952).
Founded in 1906 by Alfred C. Fuller in Hartford, Connecticut, the Fuller Brush Company predominately sold a wide range of cleaning products, marketed for personal care, housekeeping, and commercial users. Mostly a direct-selling company, it is perhaps best known for its independent, door-to-door salesmen, a figure referred to in popular culture as "the Fuller Brush Man." Calling on the housewives of America, the Fuller Brush Man would visit households with a gift, flyers, and a case full of samples, with which he would demonstrate the use of cleaning implements of various shapes and sizes. Through techniques such as developing new products based on customer feedback, and providing a satisfaction guarantee by allowing for product returns during the Fuller Brush Man's next visit, the Fuller Brush Company inspired new levels of trust and credibility in direct selling. In return, the company reaped massive profits. During the peak of the company's popularity, in around the 1950s, the Fuller Brush Man was a ubiquitous part of the American landscape, alluded to in comic strips, radio programs, and popular films, such as the 1948 Red Skelton comedy The Fuller Brush Man and the 1950 comedy The Fuller Brush Girl, starring Lucille Ball.

The Fuller Brush Company continually used its resources to promote and establish the identity of the Fuller Brush Man, to its own salespeople as well as the public. Traditional print advertisements were supplemented with extensive publicity coverage, carefully crafted by the Fuller Brush Company's advertising and public relations team. The company fostered a culture of achievable aspiration among new recruits, through in-house publications, which celebrated the accomplishments of fellow dealers, incentive programs, and a career ladder pipeline, which allowed high achieving salesmen to advance from independent dealers to regional sales managers--who were considered formal employees of the Fuller Brush Company. Some sales managers became local celebrities in their districts, adding their own charisma to the development of the Fuller Brush Man--such as New York District's Al Teetsel--whose "Fine and Dandy" personal motto established a cult following. Other Fuller Brush Company salesmen used the Fuller Brush Man's distinctive optimism, pluck, and perseverance to later become celebrities in their own right, such as evangelist Billy Graham, who attributed his high school days as a successful Fuller Brush Man to his future success.

While the Fuller Brush Company is best known for its door-to-door network of Fuller Brush Men, and its household products division, the company experimented with various channels of distribution and other specialized products during its over 100-year history. The Fuller Brush Company produced implements to clean guns during World War II, and in 1945 was honored with the E Award for its war effort contributions. In the 1940s, the Fuller Brush Company introduced female salespeople, or "Fullerettes" to their door-to-door ranks (mostly to promote their Debutante Cosmetics line, released by Daggett & Ramsdell, Inc. in 1948). The company returned to actively recruiting Fullerettes in 1966, and thereafter welcomed distributors of either sex. The company's Machine Division produced the mast for the sailboat "Columbia" in 1958, and in the 1960s, its Marine Division produced items for the maintenance of nautical equipment. Around the 1960s, its Household Division incorporated new items such as vitamins and hormone treatments into its personal care product line. The company experimented with retail brick-and-mortar locations, and, in 1974, instigated a telemarketing program. After 1985, the Fuller Brush Company began to move away from door-to-door sales techniques, redeveloping its sale channel distribution system to include mail order catalogs, a secure sales website for distributors, network-marketing techniques, and a reinterpretation of sales territories for distributors where district territories began to blur in favor of nationwide sales opportunities.

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut, the company remained in the region through the 1960s, though the company shifted locations to larger offices and manufacturing facilities as it grew. In 1960, operational facilities and headquarters moved to a large, custom-built campus in East Hartford, Connecticut. However, in 1968, the company was acquired by the Kitchens of Sara Lee, Inc. (then a part of the Consolidated Foods Corporation). During the 1970s the Fuller Brush Company experienced rapid changes in administration and organization. Under President Nat Zivin, headquarters relocated to Niles, Illinois in 1973. Later the same year, headquarters and operations moved to a large manufacturing facility in Great Bend, Kansas. The company remained a division of Sara Lee until 1989.

The Fuller Brush Company grew to involve multiple subsidiaries, including many that were international. The Fuller Brush Company established a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary in 1921, called the Fuller Brush Company, Limited. In 1942, the Fuller Brush Company bought out a competitor, the Albany, New York-based Mohawk Brush Company. The "bristlecomb" hairbrush, introduced by the Mohawk Brush Company in 1928, remained one of the Fuller Brush Company's signature products. In 1961, the Fuller Brush Company founded and incorporated Charter Supply Corporation as a wholly-owned Mohawk subsidiary. Charter Products operated as a "private label" division, to rebrand duplicate products. The Fuller Brush Company also owned subsidiaries in Mexico; in 1968, the Fuller Brush Company held 100% interest in House of Fuller, S.A. and Charter de Mexico, S.A., both established in Mexico. Also in 1968, the Fuller Brush Company was a partial owner of House of Fuller (Jamaica), Ltd. The Fuller Brush Company conducted business around the world, including dealings in England, France, Jamaica, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Venezuela.

With growth came legal challenges. The Green River Ordinance, established in 1931, placed limits on door-to-door sales. The Fuller Brush Company challenged the ordinance, when it went to the Supreme Court in 1937. Over the course of its history, the Fuller Brush Company weathered lawsuits ranging from trademark disputes to labor treatment complaints from area managers in Puerto Rico.

After the sale by Sara Lee in 1989, the Fuller Brush Company was held by a series of private owners, including Lee Turner and Stuart A. Ochiltree. In June 1994, CPAC, Inc. purchased the company. In 1995, CPAC, Inc. also bought a longtime competitor of the Fuller Brush Company, Stanley Home Products, a company founded in 1929 by Stanley Beverage, a former sales vice president for the Fuller Brush Company. The two companies became siblings under the same parent organization; items from the Stanley Home Products line were sold by Fuller Brush Company distributors, and manufactured at the Fuller Brush Company plant in Great Bend. In 2012, both the Fuller Brush Company and Stanley Home Products filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The companies merged their product lines and catalogs, eliminating equivalent products, to cut costs and streamline operations.

In December 2012, David Sabin and Chicago-based private equity firm Victory Park Capital purchased the Fuller Brush Company. The company headquarters moved to Napa Valley, California. Facing increased financial difficulties, in 2016 the company began to phase out its independent distributor system and domestic manufacturing operations. Around January 2018, the company was sold to Galaxy Brush LLC of Lakewood, New Jersey.
Alfred C. Fuller (January 13, 1885 - December 4, 1973), was founder and first president of the Fuller Brush Company, as well as the "original Fuller Brush Man." He was born in rural Nova Scotia, to parents Leander Joseph Fuller and Phebe Jane Collins. The eleventh of twelve children, Fuller took pride in the resilient and self-sufficient spirit he developed growing up on a Nova Scotian farm, and valued such qualities throughout his life over formal education. Long after his success, he promoted himself as an average man among average men.

In 1903, at age eighteen, Alfred Fuller left his family home in Nova Scotia, and followed siblings who settled in the United States. He moved in with his sister Annie and her husband, Frank Adler, in Somerville, Massachusetts. After a series of odd jobs, Fuller considered trying his hand at selling brushes (he was inspired by a brother, Dwight, who made and sold brushes before his death by tuberculosis in 1901). Alfred discovered a knack for trade; unlike many other direct salesmen at the time, his sales technique emphasized product demonstrations. Eventually, Fuller decided to make his own brushes. He set up a workbench in his sister's basement in January 1906. Four months later, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut where he founded the Fuller Brush Company.

The rapid success of the company, improved Alfred C. Fuller's romantic prospects. With the enthusiastic support of his sister, Annie, Alfred initiated a courtship with a Nova Scotian woman who had formerly caught his eye, Evelyn Ellis. They were married on April 10, 1908. However, the marriage was strained, and they divorced in 1930. In 1932, Alfred Fuller remarried. His second wife, Mary Primrose Pelton, was also Nova Scotian, the daughter of a judge from Yarmouth. They remained together for the rest of his life.

Alfred C. Fuller and his first wife Evelyn had two sons. Alfred Howard was born in 1913 and Avard in 1916. Both would later rise to prominence within the Fuller Brush Company, serving as its second and third presidents. The elder son, Howard, was Fuller Brush Company President from 1943 until 1959. From an early age, Howard challenged his father regarding the direction of the company. With his bold and aggressive personality, Howard was able to institute changes to the company that resulted in higher profits, such as distributing catalogs before the salesman's visit, shortening product demonstrations, prioritizing many small sales over few large sales, and developing other techniques that emphasized speed and efficiency. However, his temperament also contributed to Howard and his wife Dora's untimely deaths. Howard, always interested in thrilling, high-risk pursuits (such as driving sports cars, piloting airplanes, and racing speedboats and sailboats) was cruising through Nevada at 120-miles per hour for a business trip, uncharacteristically accompanied by his wife, when his Mercedes-Benz 300 SL blew a tire. Both Fullers died in the accident.

Following the tragic accident, Avard assumed leadership of the Fuller Brush Company. Avard's more conservative nature ushered in an era of leadership where his father, Alfred C. Fuller, rose in honor and influence with the company. However, Avard relied on traditional sales strategies (such as promoting a culture around the Fuller Brush Man, rather than take a more active strategy toward integrating female distributors) which placed the Fuller Brush Company at a disadvantage with competitors such as Avon Cosmetics. Avard served as President of the Fuller Brush Company until 1969.

Although Alfred C. Fuller never reclaimed presidency of the Fuller Brush Company, he remained chairman emeritus for the duration of his life. A treasured company figurehead, celebrations were held in his honor long after his retirement. In 1956, a testimonial dinner was held where a portrait of Fuller was unveiled in honor of the 50-year anniversary of the Fuller Brush Company. In 1965, Alfred C. Fuller was further honored, when his birthplace was dedicated as a historic landmark. Alfred C. Fuller was known as "Dad" Fuller to the thousands of Fuller Brush Men and Fullerettes who represented the company door-to-door throughout the country, and made frequent appearances in in-house publications and external publicity. Working with Hartzell Spence, Alfred C. Fuller wrote an autobiography, titled A Foot in the Door, published by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. in 1960. A practicing Christian Scientist with a devout Methodist mother, Fuller frequently alludes to the influence of his faith in his autobiography. Alfred C. Fuller passed away on December 4, 1973.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Stanley Home Products Collection (AC0788)

Earl S. Tupper Papers (AC0470)

Brownie Wise Papers (AC0509)

Ann and Thomas Damigella Collections (AC0583)

Industry on Parade Film Collection, episodes 66, 217 (AC0507)

Materials at the Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collection, includes some Fuller Brush Company catalogs;

The Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History holds artifacts from the Fuller Brush Company from previous accessions, such as hairbrushes for women and men (including bristlecomb hairbrushes); shower brushes; toothbrushes; combs; a military brush; brush holders; and similar materials. (AG.A.6645-AG.A.6653; AG.A.6656-AG.A.6666; AG.77-FT-15.0523; ZZ.RSN833134).

The Medicine and Science Division (now Division of Medicine and Science) National Museum of American History holds a general purpose cleaning brush, and a bathroom fixtures cleaning brush from a previous accession (2006.0098).

National Portrait Gallery holds a portrait of Alfred Fuller.

Materials at Other Organizations

Hagley Museum and Library, Manuscripts and Archives Department

Avon Products Inc., Records, 1880-2012

University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Archives

Columbia Pictures Records, 1934-1974 (collection #93555)

Includes materials related to the Fuller Brush man and Fuller Brush Girl, 1950.
Separated Materials:
Artifacts collected along with the acquisition of archival material are held by the Divisions of Work and Industry, and Medicine and Science.

Separated materials assigned to the Division of Work and Industry include a men's tie; buttons; ashtray; charm; and tape measure. See accession 2018.0089.

Separated materials assigned to Division of Medicine and Science include a bathing brush, a dental plate brush, a women's hair brush, a comb cleaner, and toothbrushes. Some items are maintained in original packaging, or are kept with original paper inserts. See accession 2018.0090.
Collection donated by the Fuller Brush Company through David Sabin, 2018.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
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.
Advertising copy  Search this
Advertising, Point-of-sale  Search this
Broom and brush industry  Search this
Door-to-door selling  Search this
Household supplies  Search this
Print Advertising  Search this
Sales promotion  Search this
Traveling sales personnel  Search this
Manufacturing  Search this
Cosmetics industry  Search this
Industry -- U.S.  Search this
Direct selling  Search this
Businesspeople  Search this
Marketing  Search this
Radio broadcasts  Search this
Product demonstrations  Search this
Articles -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Ledgers (account books) -- 20th century
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
Motion picture film
Newsletters -- 20th century
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 20th century
Printed materials
Programs (documents)
Reports -- 20th century
Sales catalogs
Sales records
Trade catalogs -- 20th century
Trade literature -- 20th century
Training manuals -- 20th century
Financial statements
Market surveys
Business records -- 20th century
Fuller Brush Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Fuller Brush Company Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

Door-to-Door Selling (Lifshey, Earl)

Collection Creator:
Fuller Brush Company  Search this
Box 60, Folder 16
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Collection Rights:
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.
Collection Citation:
Fuller Brush Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Fuller Brush Company Records
Fuller Brush Company Records / Series 3: Marketing / 3.1: Market Research
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Phyllis Diller’s Gag File

Art Steel Company, Inc.  Search this
Diller, Phyllis  Search this
Art Steel Company, Inc.  Search this
Physical Description:
steel (overall material)
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
adhesive (overall material)
overall: 48 in x 40 in x 17 1/4 in; 121.92 cm x 101.6 cm x 43.815 cm
Object Name:
Place made:
United States: New York, New York City
Date made:
ca 1962 - 1994
Humor  Search this
Comedians  Search this
Credit Line:
Gift of Phyllis Diller
ID Number:
Accession number:
Catalog number:
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Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
Phyllis Diller
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
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Doris Holmes Blake Papers

18.5 cu. ft. (37 document boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scientific illustrations
Black-and-white photographs
Black-and-white negatives
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Committee.
Descriptive Entry:
The Doris Holmes Blake papers consist of correspondence, diaries, photographs and related materials documenting in great detail Blake's personal life and, to a lesser degree, her professional career.

The heavy correspondence she maintained with her mother and daughter, her essays and children's books, and the 70 years' worth of daily journals all attest to her infatuation with the written word and preoccupation with her inner life. Blake's diaries and family papers stunningly illuminate the contrasts in the daily lives of herself, her mother, and her daughter.

The papers relating to her professional life are less complete. Although she spent almost 60 years (1919-1978) in association with the entomological staffs of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the Smithsonian Institution, published numerous professional papers, produced all of her own illustrations, and illustrated many of her husband's botanical works as well, this collection contains only a very limited amount of material documenting those activities. The papers do, however, include her extensive correspondence with fellow entomologists, both in the United States and abroad.

In the course of transferring her husband's papers to the University of Texas, some of Blake's own papers were included as well. They are presently in the collection of the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin and include letters to her parents, 1906-1950; school and college notebooks, papers, essays and drawings; and clippings, genealogical notes, and miscellaneous family letters and papers.
Historical Note:
Doris Holmes (1892-1978) was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, to a middle-class grocer and his wife. Essentially an only child (two siblings died in early childhood and infancy), her natural intelligence, stubbornness, and extremely competitive nature were well fostered by her parents, who steadily encouraged and supported her determination to excel.

Holmes left Stoughton for Boston University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1909, where she pursued studies in business and the classics, earning her A.B. in 1913. Her business skills led to her association with the Boston Psychopathic Hospital in 1913, initially as a clerk, and later as aide to Dr. Herman Adler. Her interests in science and psychology led her to an A.M. from Radcliffe College in zoology and psychology in 1917.

After a short time as a researcher at Bedford Hills Reformatory for Women, Holmes married her childhood sweetheart, botanist Sidney Fay Blake. Early in 1919, Doris Blake found work as a clerk for the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Entomology under Frank H. Chittenden, and began the entomological studies that would continue for the rest of her life.

Blake worked her way up to junior entomologist and, when Chittenden retired, continued her work under Eugene A. Schwarz at the United States National Museum. The birth in 1928 of daughter Doris Sidney (an infant son had died shortly after birth in 1927) was not a sign for her to slow down -- Blake hired a nurse to watch the baby while she continued to watch beetles. In 1933 her official employment came to an end with the institution of regulations prohibiting more than one member of a family from holding a government position (Sidney Blake was then working for the Department of Agriculture).

Although no longer on the payroll, Blake continued her taxonomic work on the family Chrysomelides for almost 45 more years, first as a collaborator and then as a research associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Shortly after her husband's death, Blake traveled to Europe in 1960 on a National Science Foundation grant to revise the genus Neobrotica Jacoby. She ultimately published 97 papers in various journals (see "Doris Holmes Blake," Froeschner, Froeschner and Cartwright, Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash., 83(3), 1981, for a complete bibliography) and continued her active research until shortly before her death on December 3, 1978.
Entomology  Search this
Scientific illustrations
Black-and-white photographs
Black-and-white negatives
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7310, Doris Holmes Blake Papers
Record Unit 7310
See more items in:
Doris Holmes Blake Papers
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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