Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
8 documents - page 1 of 1

Brownie Wise Papers

Inventor:
Wise, Brownie Humphrey, 1913-1991  Search this
Names:
Stanley Home Products  Search this
Tupperware (Firm).  Search this
Vivian Woodward Cosmetics  Search this
Extent:
15 Cubic feet (42 boxes, 33 sound recordings)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Personal papers
Business records
Speeches
Audiovisual materials
Photographs
Date:
circa 1928-1968
Summary:
The papers consist of business records documenting the history of Tupperware from 1951-1958, during which Brownie Wise served as vice president of the Tupperware Company. Also, personal papers and business records documenting her marketing activities for Stanley Home Products, Vivian Woodard Cosmetics, and others.
Scope and Contents:
The Brownie Wise Papers constitute an essential complement to the Earl Tupper Papers, acquired in 1992, and to the museums rich collections of Tupperware products. Together these collections document not only the founding and early business history of Tupperware, but also significant areas of American history in which the museum has a demonstrated interest. The Brownie Wise Papers illuminate aspects of an American consumer culture which achieved its apex in the post-World War II years; in many ways, Tupperware and the Tupperware party reflect the key defining elements of the fifties. Of special significance is the story these papers tell of a successful woman business executive and working mother, in an era whose women have more often been characterized by June Cleaver and Harriet Nelson. The Tupperware story offers rich insights into the society and culture of the era, illuminating issues of gender, consumerism, and technological development.

There are approximately 15 cubic feet of materials, including photographic and audiovisual materials. The collection is organized into eight series.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into eight series.

Series 1: Personal Papers, circa 1928-1968

Series 2: Stanley Home Products, Patio Parties, circa 1947-1959

Series 3: Tupperware Home Parties, circa 1951-1959

Series 4: Direct Sales consulting, circa 1958-1969

Series 5: Other Direct Sales Consulting, circa 1958-1971

Series 6: Other Business ventures, circa 1958-1967

Series 7: Photographs, 1930-1968

Series 8: Audiovisual Materials, 1953-1957; 1977
Biographical Note:
Brownie Humphrey was born in Buford, Georgia in 1913, the daughter of Rosabelle Stroud Humphrey and Jerome Humphrey, a plumber. According to longtime friend Kay Robinson, Brownie knew that there were few business opportunities for women in the South, and that "unless she wanted to work in sales, she would have to leave the South." After meeting Robert Wise at the Texas Centennial in 1936, where the couple saw an exhibition highlighting a bright future at Ford Motors, Brownie and Robert married and moved to the Detroit area where he worked as a machinist, later opening a small machine shop. The couple divorced in 1941, about three years after the birth of their only child, Jerry. Brownie Wise never remarried.

During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Brownie contributed to a correspondence column of the Detroit News under the pen name "Hibiscus." Her columns were largely autobiographical, but used elements of fantasy and romance to address a uniquely female urban community. In Detroit, Wise worked briefly at an ad agency and in a millinery shop. During World War II, Wise got a job as an executive secretary at Bendix. After the war, Brownie and her mother, Rose Stroud Humphrey, began selling Stanley Home Products. When Jerry became ill in 1949, they followed a doctor's advice and moved to Miami where they began a direct selling business they called Patio Parties. Through this business, the mother daughter team distributed Poly-T (Tupperware), Stanley Home Products, West Bend, and other household goods through an innovative home party plan adopted by Brownie.

Thomas Damigella in Massachusetts, and Brownie Wise in South Florida, quickly became among the fastest movers of Tupperware products, attracting the attention of Earl Tupper, who was still searching for a profitable outlet for his plastic containers. Because Americans were still skeptical of plastics and because the Tupper seal required demonstration, early attempts at department store sales had been unsuccessful. Some independent dealers had more success selling through demonstrations at state fairs or door-to-door, but sales and distribution remained low. The experiences of Damigella and Wise convinced Tupper to offer the products on a home party plan. He partnered with Norman Squires, the originator of Hostess Home Parties, to pursue this strategy.

In 1951, Tupper recruited Brownie to develop the Hostess party plan for Tupperware, and named her vice president of the company. She is credited with developing the party plan and sales organization, and with creating the annual Jubilee, a pep-rally and awards ceremony for dealers and distributors; it was her idea to locate company headquarters in Kissimmee, and she oversaw the design and construction of the campus. With the company's meteoric success came national recognition. Her public role was all the greater because Earl Tupper shunned all public exposure; Wise was the public head of the company throughout the 1950s. She was both honored guest and invited speaker at national sales and marketing conferences, where she was often the only woman in attendance. Scores of laudatory articles about her appeared in the sales industry and general business press, and she became the darling of the women's magazines, including features in McCalls, Charm and Companion.

Tupper and Wise clashed over the management and direction of the business in late 1957 and the board of directors forced her out in January, 1958. She filed a $1,600,000 suit against the company for conspiracy and breach of contract, but settled out of court for a year's salary -- about $30,000. Shortly thereafter, Tupper sold the company to Dart/Rexall and relinquished all involvement with it.

Beginning in 1958 and through the 1960s, Brownie co-founded three direct sales cosmetics companies, Cinderella (1958-59), Carissa (1963) and Sovera/Trivera (1966-69). She also was president of Viviane Woodard Cosmetics (1960-62), and consulted for Artex and others. In addition, she undertook a real estate development venture in Kissimmee with Charles McBurney and George Reynolds (both former Tupperware executives). She seems never to have achieved the same level of success in these later business ventures. Wise continued to live in the Kissimmee area, moving from Waters' Edge, the spectacular 1920s mansion she occupied during the Tupperware years, to a home George Reynolds designed for her in. She was active in her church and as an artist, working in clay and textiles. During the last eight years of her life she was in declining health. She died in December 1992.
Provenance:
The collection was donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History in March 1994 by Brownie Wise's son, Jerry Wise, of Kissimmee, Florida.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
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.
Topic:
Direct selling  Search this
Women in marketing  Search this
Sales promotion  Search this
Product demonstrations  Search this
Plastics  Search this
Genre/Form:
Personal papers -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Speeches
Audiovisual materials
Photographs -- 20th century
Citation:
Brownie Wise Papers, 1938-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0509
See more items in:
Brownie Wise Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0509
Online Media:

[Brownie Wise demonstrating Tupperware in Hawaii : black-and-white photoprint]

Collector:
Wise, Brownie Humphrey, 1913-1991  Search this
Names:
Tupperware (Firm).  Search this
Wise, Brownie Humphrey, 1913-1991  Search this
Collection Inventor:
Wise, Brownie Humphrey, 1913-1991  Search this
Extent:
1 Item
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Place:
Hawaii -- 1950-1960
Date:
circa 1950-1960
Scope and Contents:
Brownie Wise conducting a Tupperware "home party" on the beach; photographer unidentified.
Local Numbers:
AC0509-0000005.tif (AC Scan)
General:
In Box 29a, Folder 4.
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site by appointment. Photographs must be handled with cotton gloves unless protected by sleeves.
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.
Topic:
Beaches  Search this
Product demonstrations  Search this
Women in marketing  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 1950-1960 -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin
Collection Citation:
Brownie Wise Papers, 1938-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Brownie Wise Papers
Brownie Wise Papers / Series 7: Photographs / Tupperware Trips
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0509-ref973

Marion O'Brien Donovan Papers

Creator:
Dodd, Sharon Donovan  Search this
Donovan, Christine  Search this
Donovan, James F. Jr., Dr.  Search this
Donovan, Marion (Marion O'Brien), 1917-1998 (inventor)  Search this
Rabinow, Jacob, 1910-  Search this
Walters, Barbara  Search this
Names:
Keko Corporation.  Search this
Saks Fifth Avenue.  Search this
Extent:
7 Cubic feet (17 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Advertising mail
Birth certificates
Clippings
Correspondence
Color prints (photographs)
Dye diffusion transfer prints
Marriage certificates
Patent drawings
Photographs
Publications
Publicity photographs
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Videotapes
Date:
1949-1999
Summary:
Correspondence, patents, photographs, newspaper clippings, and subject files about various inventors and ideas. Collection documents women inventors, American culture, 1950s-1970s, and products designed for women and the home. Donovan's papers offer a near complete invention record, including both successes and failures, as well as patent and trademark correspondence.
Scope and Contents:
The Donovan papers offer a near complete invention record, including both successes and failures, and include correspondence, photographs, patents, newspaper clippings, and subject files about various inventions and ideas. This collection documents direct marketing techniques for products designed especially for women and the home. It may be useful for researchers interested in women inventors and entrepreneurs, American culture from the 1950s through the 1970s, and advertising history.

Series 1: Personal Papers and Biographical Materials, 1917-1999

Subseries 1.1: Biographical Materials, 1917-1999 includes newspaper clippings, biographical materials, and memorabilia relating to Marion Donovan's early life, family, and social activities. Note: Original clippings have been photocopied, and researcher copies are available.

Subseries 1.2: Magazine Publications, 1953-1999 includes original magazines which featured articles on Marion Donovan.

Series 2: The Boater, 1949-1995

Includes United States and foreign patents, notes, clippings, correspondence, photos, press releases and scrapbooks that document the invention of the Boater diaper cover.

Series 3: Other Ideas and Inventions, 1941-1993

Subseries 3.1: Marion Donovan's Subject Files, 1941-1995 are arranged chronologically and contain advertisements, articles, correspondence, sketches, notes, United States and foreign patents, photo materials, press releases, publications, and some artifacts documenting her ideas and inventions.

Subseries 3.2: Barbara Walters' Television Special, Not For Women Only, [1975] features an episode highlighting "Inventors and Invention," with a panel that includes Marion Donovan, Jacob Rabinow, and Henry Kloss, demonstrating their inventions.

Series 4: Dentaloop, 1979-1996

Subseries 4.1: Manufacturing Files, 1979-1996 contains files relating to the manufacture and packaging of DentaLoop, and includes photo materials, correspondence with various manufacturers including Johnson & Johnson, clippings, craft materials, and reports.

Subseries 4.2: Patents and Patent History, 1985-1996 contains files kept by Marion Donovan documenting the patent history of her and others' dental inventions.

Subseries 4.3: Marketing Files, 1989-1995 includes a substantial mailing list compiled over the years by Marion Donovan Associates, various order forms, advertising drafts, press releases, correspondence with Procter & Gamble, photo materials, personalized questionnaire responses, and a "How-To" videotape demonstration.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into 4 series.

Series 1: Personal Papers and Biographical Material, 1999

Series 2: The Boater, 1949-1999

Series 3: Other Ideas and Inventions, 1941-1993

Series 4: DentaLoop, 1979-1996
Biographical / Historical:
Twentieth-century inventor, Marion O'Brien Donovan (1917-1998), made a career of designing solutions to everyday, domestic problems. Her career is framed by her invention in 1949 of the "Boater," a diaper cover made of surplus parachute nylon, and her invention in 1993 of DentaLoop, individual precut circles of two-ply dental floss. As an inventor and entrepreneur, Donovan created products that addressed problems in personal health, beauty, and household needs.

Marion O'Brien was born into a family of inventors on October 15, 1917, in South Bend, Indiana. Marion's father, Miles O'Brien, with his identical twin brother John, developed an industrial lathe for manufacturing gun barrels and founded the South Bend Lathe Works in 1906. After her mother died when she was seven, Marion spent a majority of her time at her father's factory, even inventing a "tooth powder" while in elementary school. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Rosemont College in 1939, and worked briefly for both Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. In 1942, she married James F. Donovan and moved to Westport, Connecticut.

A Connecticut housewife and mother of two in 1946, Donovan was unsatisfied with the options available to her to keep her babies dry. To her, cloth diapers "served more as a wick than a sponge," and rubber pants assured a nasty case of diaper rash. Looking for a way to hold the dampness in without keeping air out, she experimented by clipping a panel from her shower curtain, sewing a moisture-proof diaper cover, and replacing safety pins with snaps. Three years later, she introduced the "Boater." Donovan's attempts to sell her idea to leading manufacturers failed, but her product became an instant sensation and commercial success when she began selling the Boater at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1949. In 1951, Donovan sold both her company, Donovan Enterprises, and her diaper patents to children's clothing manufacturer Keko Corporation, for one million dollars.

Marion Donovan's interest in design and invention manifested itself in a Master's degree in architecture which she received from Yale University in 1958, at age forty-one. According to her obituary, she was one of three women in her graduating class. In the decades that followed, Donovan would go on to invent "The Ledger Check," a combined check and record-keeping book; "The Big Hang-Up," a garment hanger and closet organizer; and "The Zippity-Do," an elasticized zipper pull.

Marion Donovan was involved in every aspect of product development, serving as creator, designer, manufacturer, and marketer. Often, designing the product also meant designing the machinery that could construct the product to her unique specifications. While working on the development of DentaLoop, for example, she and second husband, John Butler, traveled to a factory in Germany to explore floss-producing machinery ideas. Donovan also went to great lengths to market her floss product. Between the years 1991 and 1995, in collaboration with daughter Christine, she launched her largest promotional campaign, marketing DentaLoop directly to hundreds of dental professionals and pharmacists all over the country. Always envisioning improvements, she continued to correspond with companies specializing in oral hygiene products until her husband suffered a stroke, and she focused her attentions on caring for him. Following his death in July, Marion O'Brien Donovan Butler died four months later on November 4, 1998.
Related Materials:
Artifacts were donated to the National Museum of American History in March of 2000. The "Boater" diaper cover (1949), a key chain bracelet, and "The Zippity-Do" (1970) were donated to the American Costume Collection of Social History Collection. "DentaLoop" (1993) materials were donated to the Science, Medicine, and Society Division.
Provenance:
Ms. Donovan's daughters, Christine Donovan and Sharon Donovan Dodd, and son, Dr. James F. Donovan, Jr., donated the collection to the Archives Center, March 2000.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
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.
Topic:
advertising  Search this
Diapers  Search this
Dental hygiene -- 20th century  Search this
Inventions -- 20th century  Search this
Inventors -- 20th century  Search this
Trademarks  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Women architects  Search this
Women inventors -- 20th century  Search this
Women in marketing  Search this
Women in technology  Search this
Women inventors  Search this
Genre/Form:
Advertising mail
Birth certificates
Clippings -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Color prints (photographs)
Dye diffusion transfer prints
Marriage certificates
Patent drawings -- 20th century
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 19th-20th century
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film -- 1900-2000
Publications
Publicity photographs
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Sketches
Videotapes -- 1970-1980
Citation:
Marion O'Brien Donovan Papers, 1949-1996, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0721
See more items in:
Marion O'Brien Donovan Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0721
Online Media:

who [sic] snags more stockings? / who wears out more shoes? [Booklet.]

Publisher:
Street & Smith Publications, Inc.  Search this
Charm (Magazine)  Search this
Advertiser:
Charm (Magazine)  Search this
Collection Creator:
Ellis, Estelle  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (9" X 13.5".)
Container:
Box 6, Folder 2
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Booklets
Advertisements
Date:
1953
Scope and Contents:
Illustrated booklet containing reproductions of staged photographs from Charm Magazine, with statistics about working women's buying habits for shoes and stockings.
Local Numbers:
AC0423-0000024a.tif - AC0423-0000024t.tif (AC Scans)
General:
In Box 6, Folder 2.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
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.
Topic:
Clothing -- American  Search this
Hosiery  Search this
advertising -- 20th century  Search this
Women in marketing -- 1940-1990  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Shoes  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- Reproductions
Booklets -- 1920-1970
Advertisements
Collection Citation:
Estelle Ellis Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Estelle Ellis Collection
Estelle Ellis Collection / Client Files / 1.11: Charm Magazine (Street and Smith/Condé Nast Publications, Incorporated) / Marketing studies
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0423-ref2133

More Money than Time... : [Booklet with reproductions of drawings.]

Creator:
Charm (Magazine)  Search this
Collection Creator:
Ellis, Estelle  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (ink on paper., 6" x 4.5".)
Container:
Box 4, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Drawings
Booklets
Date:
Ca. 1950-1960
Scope and Contents:
A booklet promoting Charm Magazine's "Shop Here" program. Tells how many articles of types of clothing a typical woman buys in a year.
Local Numbers:
AC0423-0000010a.tif (AC Scan)

AC0423-0000010b.tif (AC Scan)

AC0423-0000010c.tif (AC Scan)

AC0423-0000010d.tif (AC Scan)

AC0423-0000010e.tif (AC Scan)

AC0423-0000010f.tif (AC Scan)

AC0423-0000010g.tif (AC Scan)
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
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.
Topic:
Clothing -- American  Search this
Women in marketing -- 1940-1990  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Women's periodicals -- 1940-1990  Search this
Genre/Form:
Drawings -- 1850-1860
Booklets -- 1920-1970
Collection Citation:
Estelle Ellis Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Estelle Ellis Collection
Estelle Ellis Collection / Client Files / 1.11: Charm Magazine (Street and Smith/Condé Nast Publications, Incorporated) / Marketing and promotional materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0423-ref2134

The Original Mexicans [page from cookbook]

Topic:
Ethnic Imagery Project, Archives Center
Advertiser:
Heublein, Inc.  Search this
Collection Creator:
Wells, Ellen B.  Search this
Extent:
1 Page (Ink on paper)
Culture:
Mexicans  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Pages
Cookbooks
Date:
1972
Scope and Contents:
Pp. 2-3, "The original families", women in market and church architecture.
Arrangement:
Box No. 20, Folder No. 10.
Local Numbers:
040396108.tif (AC Scan No.)
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
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.
Topic:
Food  Search this
Genre/Form:
Cookbooks
Collection Citation:
Product Cookbooks Collection, 1874-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Product Cookbooks Collection
Product Cookbooks Collection / Heublein Incorporated. The Original Mexicans
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0396-ref2238

The mom factor : what really drives where we shop, eat, and play / Nora Lee

Author:
Lee, Nora  Search this
Urban Land Institute  Search this
Physical description:
xxvi, 131 p. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
2005
C2005
Topic:
Women consumers  Search this
Marketing  Search this
Women in marketing  Search this
Mothers--Social life and customs  Search this
Leisure industry--Marketing  Search this
Call number:
HC79.C6 L44 2005
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_784007

Bolivia: Sorata, the Ice Cream Woman in Market Place, (painting)

Painter:
Post, Charles Johnson 1873-1956  Search this
Medium:
Watercolor
Type:
Paintings
Date:
Ca. 1901-1902
Topic:
Landscape--South America  Search this
Figure female  Search this
Occupation--Vendor  Search this
Control number:
IAP 99880131
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_245263

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By