Patent and trademark documents, advertisements, sales and marketing material, market research, photographs, packaging, company newsletters and magazines, and business records documenting the history of the Maidenform Company from 1922 to1997.
Collection organized into eleven series.
Series 1, Company History, 1922-1990
Series 2, News Articles, 1941-1997
Series 3, Patents, Trademarks, and Registrations, 1871-1979
Series 4, Publications, 1931-1997
Series 5, Sales and Marketing Materials, 1929-1997
Series 6, Advertising, 1929-1997
Series 7, Photographs, 1927-1993
Series 8, Patterns, circa 1950s
Series 9, World War II Activities, 1941-1946
Series 10, Labor Relations, 1937-1990
Series 11, Miscellaneous Unprocessed Materials
Biographical / Historical:
The history of Maidenform, Incorporated began at Enid Frocks, a small dress shop in New York City owned and operated by Enid Bissett. Ida Rosenthal was a Russian Jewish immigrant and seamstress at Enid's shop. In 1922, Ida and Enid decided that the fit and appearance of their custom-made dresses would be enhanced if improvements were made to the bandeaux style bras then in vogue. They gathered the bandeaux in the middle in a design modification that provided more support in a manner they believed enhanced, rather than downplayed, a woman's natural figure. Ida's husband, William, added straps and further refined the style. The called their bras "Maidenform", in counterpoint to the "Boyish Form" brand then in vogue. Initially, the bras were given away with each dress they sold. As the bras gained popularity they began selling them, and eventually the bras became so popular they stopped making dresses altogether and shifted to full-scale brassiere manufacturing. The first Maidenform plant opened in Bayonne, N.J. in 1925. After World War II, the company began marketing heavily in Europe and Latin America. Eventually, Maidenform operated plants in West Virginia, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Documentation for the development and manufacture of a "pigeon vest" is also included in the collection. The pigeon vest allowed troopers to carry homing pigeons with them as they parachuted behind enemy lines. During World War II, Maidenform manufactured these pigeon vests and silk parachutes for the war effort.
Maidenform advertising campaigns were enormously successful, and generated controversy as well as praise. The now famous "I Dreamed" campaign was launched in 1949; this campaign ran for 20 years, making it one of the longest running campaigns in the history of advertising. The advertisements featured models in everyday or fantastic situations, elaborately costumed but wearing only a Maidenform bra above the waist. This campaign was followed by the "Maidenform Woman" campaign which was credited with boosting sales by 200 percent in some stores. The "Dares to Dream" campaign played off the "I Dreamed" tagline in 1984, and in 1987, the "Celebrity" campaign began. The "Celebrity" ads were notable for the absence of women in lingerie; instead, well-known male actors discussed their feelings about women and lingerie in print and commercial advertisements. The tone of the advertising shifted in 1992 with a series of ads called "The Women's Advocacy" campaign.
Maidenform was family owned and operated until 1997. After the death of William Rosenthal in 1958, his wife, Ida, became the president of their company. In 1963, she suffered an incapacitating stroke. At this time, son-in-law Dr. Joseph Coleman became head of the company. Upon his death in 1968, his wife (the only surviving child of Ida and William) Beatrice Rosenthal Coleman, gained complete control over the business until her death in 1990.
The Ida and William Rosenthal Foundation, a philanthropic and charitable institution founded in 1953, is run by granddaughter Catherine Brawer.
Materials at the National Museum of American History
The Division of Home and Community Life (now Division of Cultural and Community Life) holds Maidenform artifacts including brassieres, girdles, and "long-lines," and two of the costumes used in the "I Dreamed" campaign.
Undergarment ads in the United States, 1947-1970
The collection was donated by Maidenform, Incorporated in May 1997.
The collection is open for research use. Only reference copies of audiovisual materials may be used for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The donor has imposed restrictions on reproduction, broadcast or use of the collection for commercial purposes of any kind by third parties. Reproduction, broadcast or other use of the collection for commercial purposes of any kind by third parties is subject to prior written consent. These permissions will be required until July 2047. Please see the repository for further details.
The collection documents "Selling the Dream" was an hour long television documentary that aired in early 1991 as part of the public television series, Smithsonian World.
Scope and Contents:
Series 1, boxes 1-15: 16 mm color film shot for the program, arranged in two subseries. Subseries A, boxes 1-10, consists of primary source materials including film footage of a meeting of scholars, historians, archivists, Weiden & Kennedy advertising agency personnel, and Nike executives at the Smithsonian's Center for Advertising History for the Nike Advertising Oral History and Documentation Project; interviews with scholars, historians, industry representatives (including transcripts for some interviews); and documentation of a Mitsubishi GT3000 ad from pitch to production, including meetings between Grey advertising agency personnel and Mitsubishi account representatives, a live commerical shoot and a production session with a commercial narrator. Subseries B, boxes 11-15, consists of secondary materials created during production, including pre-production sync pulls, trims, and lifts as compiled and edited by producer Steven York and Associates. Series 2, box 16, contains documentary materials relating to the show's production and broadcast, including correspondence, press releases, and publicity. Transcripts for the interviews are located here.
The collection is divided into two series.
Series 1: Film
Series 2: Documentary Material
Biographical / Historical:
"Selling the Dream" was an hour-long television documentary that aired in early 1991 as part of the public television series "Smithsonian World." The program traces the evolution of advertising from the late 19th century through the creative revolution of the 1960s to explore how advertising both influences and reflects American culture. In addition to historical imagery, the program follows a contemporary Mitsubishi GT3000 automobile advertising campaign from conception to production. The program features interviews with the men and women who created the advertising as well as with scholars, historians, industry advocates and government officials who comment on the role and history of advertising in a comsumer culture. "Selling the Dream" was underwritten by Southwestern Bell and co-produced by WETA and the Smithsonian Institution. The Center for Advertising History served as a resource and consultant to the producers.
Collection donated by Smithsonian World through executive producer Sandra Bradley, in August 1991.
Collection is open for research.
There are reproduction restrictions on material in this collection. See repository details.
Stereotypes (Social psychology) in advertising Search this
Content Description: This filmstrip presents highlights of the Reddy Kilowatt program to utility companies. It describes the importance of symbols in advertising and notes that Reddy Kilowatt can help utility companies acquire a friendlier and softer image. The flexibility of the Reddy Kilowatt image is also addressed, and it can help strengthen companies against municipal takeovers. Interaction with local youths is also encouraged. Similar content to Reddy for the Surging 70's 1 (913.51).
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 email@example.com or 202-633-3270.
Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. Reference copies are ½ inch VHS, audio cassette, or compact disc. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow. There are no reference copies on VHS or DVD for the filmstrips, and the Archives Center does not have a filmstrip projector.
Technical Access: Titles on Beta Max video tape and all picture and audio elements for Original Film (OF) 913.7 cannot be viewed. Viewing the film and filmstrip portion of collection requires special appointment.
Collection items are available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions.
Reddy Kilowatt Records, 1926-1999, Archives Center, National Museum of American History