The Cover Girl Make-Up Advertising Oral History and Documentation Project, 1923-1991, is the result of a year-long study in 1990, which examined the advertising created for Noxell Corporation's Cover Girl make-up products from 1959 to 1990. The objective of the project was to document, in print and electronic media, the history of Cover Girl make-up advertising since its inception in 1959.
Scope and Contents:
Twenty-two oral history interviews (conducted by Dr. Scott Ellsworth for the Archives Center) and a variety of print and television advertisements, photographs, scrapbooks, personal papers, business records and related materials were gathered by the Center for Advertising History staff. The objective was to create a collection that provides documentation, in print and electronic media, of the history and development of advertising for Cover Girl make-up since its inception in 1959.
Collection also includes earlier material related to other Noxell products, including Noxzema, with no direct connection to the Cover Girl campaign.
The collection is arranged into eight series.
Series 1: Research Files
Series 2: Interviewee Files
Series 3: Oral History Interviews
Series 4: Television Advertising Materials
Series 5: Print Advertising Materials
Series 6: Company Publications and Promotional Literature
Series 7: Photographs
Series 8: Scrapbooks
Biographical / Historical:
George Avery Bunting founded the Noxzema Chemical Company in Baltimore, Maryland in 1917. In the 1890s, he left behind a teaching job on Maryland's Eastern shore to move to Baltimore, where he hoped to pursue a career as a pharmacist. He landed a job as errand boy and soda jerk at a local drugstore, where he worked while attending classes at the University Of Maryland College of Pharmacy. Valedictorian of the Class of 1899, Bunting was promoted to manager of the drugstore, which he purchased. Bunting began to experiment with the formulation of medicated pastes and compounds, which he marketed to his customers. In 1909, he began refining a medicated vanishing cream, which he introduced in 1914. "Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy," an aromatic skin cream containing clove oil, eucalyptus oil, lime water, menthol and camphor, was mixed by hand at his pharmacy. Marketed locally as a greaseless, medicated cream for the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, including sunburn, eczema, and acne, the product was renamed "Noxzema" for its reputed ability to "knock eczema." By 1917, the Noxzema Chemical Company was formed. During the 1920s, distribution of the product was expanded to include New York, Chicago, and the Midwest and, by 1926, the first Noxzema manufactory was built in northwest Baltimore to accommodate the demand for nearly a million jars a year.
Having achieved a national market by 1938, Noxzema Chemical Company executives pursued product diversification as a means to maintain the corporate growth of the early years. In the 1930s and 1940s, line extensions included shaving cream, suntan lotion and cold cream, all with the distinctive "medicated" Noxzema aroma.
In the late 1950s, Bill Hunt, director of product development at Noxzema, suggested a line extension into medicated make-up. Creatives at Sullivan, Stauffer, Colwell & Bayles, Incorporated (SSC&B), Noxzema's advertising agency since 1946, suggested that the advertising for the new product focus on beauty and glamour with some reference to the medicated claims made for other Noxzema products. In contrast to other cosmetics, which were sold at specialized department store counters, Noxzema's medicated make-up would be marketed alongside other Noxzema products in grocery stores and other mass distribution outlets. After experimenting with names that suggested both glamour and the medicated claims (including Thera-Blem and Blema-Glow), Bill Grathwohl, Noxell's advertising director, selected Carolyn Oelbaum's "Cover Girl," which conveyed the product's usefulness as a blemish cover-up, while invoking the glamorous image of fashion models. These three elements of the advertising, wholesome glamour, mass marketing, and medicated make-up, remain central to Cover Girl advertising nearly a half-century later.
Beginning with the national launch in 1961, American and international fashion models were featured in the ads. The target audience was identified as women between eighteen and fifty-four and, initially, the "glamour" ads were targeted at women's magazines, while the "medicated" claims were reserved for teen magazines. Television ads featured both elements. Cover Girl advertising always featured beautiful women -- especially Caucasian women, but the Cover Girl image has evolved over time to conform to changing notions of beauty. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the Cover Girl was refined and aloof, a fashion conscious sophisticate. By the 1970s, a new social emphasis on looking and dressing "naturally" and the introduction of the "Clean Make-up" campaign created a new advertising focus on the wholesome glamour of the "girl next door," a blue-eyed, blonde all-American image. In the 1980s, the Cover Girl look was updated to include African-American, Hispanic and working women.
In January 1970, SSC&B bought 49% of the Lintas Worldwide advertising network. After SSC&B was acquired by the Interpublic Group of Companies in 1979, the entire Lintas operation was consolidated under the name SSC&B/Lintas in 1981. With the Procter & Gamble buy-out of the Noxell Corporation in September 1989, the cosmetics account was moved to long-time P&G agency Grey Advertising, in order to circumvent a possible conflict of interest between P&G competitor Unilever, another Lintas account. In 1989 SSC&B/Lintas, Cover Girl's agency since its launch in 1961, lost the account it helped to create and define, but the brand continues to dominate mass-marketed cosmetics.
This project is the result of a year-long study of advertising created for the Noxell Corporation's Cover Girl make-up products, 1959-1990. The effort was supported in part by a grant from the Noxell Corporation. The target audience was identified as women 18-54, and initially, the "glamour" ads were targeted at women's magazines, while the "medicated" claims were reserved for teen magazines. Television ads featured both elements. Cover Girl advertising has always featured beautiful women (especially Caucasian women), but the Cover Girl image evolved over time to conform with changing notions of beauty. In the late 1950s-1960s, the Cover Girl was refined and aloof, a fashion conscious sophisticate. By the 1970s, a new social emphasis on looking and dressing "naturally" and the introduction of the "Clean Make-up" campaign created a new advertising focus on the wholesome glamour of the "girl next door," a blue-eyed, blonde all-American image. Through the 1980s, the Cover Girl look was updated to include African-American and Hispanic models and images of women at work.
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records (AC0059)
"The Division of Home and Community Life, Costume Collection (now Division of Cultural and Community Life) holds eighty-six cosmetic items and one computer that were also donated by the Noxell Corporation in 1990 in conjunction with the oral history project. These artifacts include lipstick, manicure sets, brushes, make-up, eye shadow, blush, powder puffs, eyelash curler, nail polish, and mascara. See accession number 1990.0193.
Most of the materials in the collection were donated to the Center for Advertising History by the Noxell Corporation, 1990. All storyboards and videoscripts, and a large collection of business records and proofsheets were donated by George Poris in June 1990. All mechanicals were donated by Art Weithas in June 1990. (These contributions are noted in the finding aid).
Collection is open for research but a portion of the collection is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at email@example.com or 202-633-3270.
Exhibition files document the gallery's four decade exhibition history and date from 1921-2014, bulk 1972-2014. Files contain correspondence, price lists, floor plans, loan agreements, shipping receipts, invoices, sales records, photographic material of artworks and installations, digital images, and printed material including press releases, reviews, and exhibition brochures. The exhibition files reflect the Washburn Gallery's history of mounting both solo exhibitions for their stable of artists as well as group exhibitions highlighting significant movements and themes in art history, including American abstract art, abstract expressionism, folk art, genre scenes, women artists, Federal Art Project artworks, art from the 1930s-1940s, and many other categories. The gallery has also mounted several reinterpretations of historically significant exhibitions and exhibition spaces including The Museum of Non-Objective Painting (1972-1973), Seven Americans (1974 and 1982), and From the Intimate Gallery (1978), which featured artists from the Stieglitz Group. Two files of exhibitions schedules are filed at the end of the series. Material that dates prior to the Gallery's founding includes collected printed material and research relating to provenance.
Files are arranged in chronological order by the date of exhibition.
The collection is ACCESS RESTRICTED; use requires written permission. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Access to original papers, with permission, requires an appointment.
Washburn Gallery records, 1906-2017, bulk 1971-2010. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The scrapbook, removed from one binder, consists of photocopies of correspondence, memoranda, legal documents, reports, press releases, and newspaper articles related to Howardena Pindell's father, Howard D. Pindell's involvement in the pursuit of salary equity for African American teachers in Maryland. Correspondence includes letters to and from Thurgood Marshall and Charles H. Houston, special counsel of the NAACP.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Howardena Pindell Scrapbook, 1935-1940. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
The film, George Washington Carver, starring Carver himself, was filmed in 1939 and released in 1940. Ben Parker was the director and Robert L. Shurr wrote the screenplay.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of a copy of the original script for the motion picture George Washington Carver and a scrapbook detailing the motion picture's press. The bulk of the material dates to the production and release of the film, 1939-1940. There is additional correspondence from Shurr concerning the film dated 1968. The scrapbook contains photographs from the film. There are reference copies for the script and scrapbook.
Biographical / Historical:
The film, George Washington Carver, was an independent production of Bryant Productions, directed by Ben Parker and written by Robert L. Shurr. An article on Dr. George Washington Carver in Life magazine reportedly inspired the original idea for Parker. After a personal visit by Parker, Carver consented not only to approve the film but to appear in it. Parker engaged Robert L. Shurr to write the screenplay, originally titled Devil Cotton or the Story of Dr. Carver. The screenplay combined both a documentary and fictional narrative style. The screenplay detailed Carver's early life including a fictitious romantic relationship. The cast included: Ralph Edwards, Raye Gilbert, John J. Marvin, and Milton Sprague.
Raising funds for the project and making the film were both difficult. Parker eventually raised $2,000 from Allen McDowell who is listed as one of the film's producers. The film, which reportedly cost $14,000, was shot in Alabama with a small crew and very basic equipment. The film crew and those helping with the filming experienced violence from the white community which reportedly stoned McDowell and two of the film's local white participants. The film was released independently and played in a few RKO owned theatres but apparently never recouped its cost. In 1940, $10,000 was taken in at the film's premiere at Tuskegee Institute. Most likely, this was the film's largest audience.
We have no further information about the production or producer, our initial research has been unable to locate any further details concerning this film. A print of the film in its entirety is not known to exist, but portions of it are seen in a thirty minute video from Schlesinger Video Productions entitled Black Americans of Achievement: George Washington Carver.
Carver, a world famous agrichemist, was born near Diamond Grove, Missouri, circa 1864 to a woman named Mary. In 1896, he went to Tuskegee Institute as the head of the Agricultural Department and stayed there until his death on January 5, 1943.
Carver found many uses for the peanut, sweet potato, pecan, soybean, and cotton stalk. His important contributions to the Southern economy were: to diversify, utilize the land more efficiently, and in an ecologically friendly way, build up the soil, cope with plant diseases, and utilize research results in farm activities.
Among the many honors he received were: fellow, British Royal Society of Arts, 1916; Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1923; and the Theodore Roosevelt Medal, 1939. He was widely admired and Henry Ford included a replica of his birthplace at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.
In his personal life Carver was never married and current scholarship indicates that he may have been homosexual. The historian, Horace L. Griffin, in his 2006 book Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians & Gays in Black Churches, details the clandestine homosexual life of Carver and others. Pertaining to Carver's habit of giving peanut oil massages to his male friends, Linda O. McMurry in her 1982 biography of Carver, George Washington Carver, Scientist and Symbol, relates, "Most of his male friends received at least one massage from the professor," but evidence that it ever went beyond massage is not detailed. Beginning in 1935, Carver's constant companion was Austin W. Curtis, Jr. a graduate of Cornell who taught at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College before coming to Tuskegee and joining Carver as his assistant.
Rackham Holt, Carver's biographer, describes the relationship between the two men in his 1943 biography, George Washington Carver: an American Biography, "At last someone had been welcomed not merely into Dr. Carver's laboratory, but also into his heart. He believed that there was something providential in the coming of this young man, so intensely serious about his work and extremely competent at it, who was at the same time a genial companion; he was proud of him and loved and depended on him as his own son . . . . And the affection was returned in full measure. Mr. Curtis accompanied him everywhere, seeing to his comfort, shielding him from intrusion, and acting as his official mouthpiece." Carver had a standing invitation to visit Henry Ford at his plantation in Ways, Georgia, where guest rooms were kept prepared for both Carver and Curtis. Carver died in Tuskegee, Alabama on January 5, 1943 and was buried in the churchyard of the college chapel. The National Park Service owns and maintains 210 acres of the farm where Carver was born as the George Washington Carver National Monument.
The collection was donated by Robert L. Shurr in October 1984.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.