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Retrospectives in Marketing (RIM)

A newsletter of the Association for Historical Research in Marketing (AHRIM)
November 2003 Vol. 16 No. 1
Robert D. Tamilia editor, University of Quebec at Montreal

Welcome Back

As the recently appointed editor of RIM, Retrospective in Marketing, the Newsletter of the Association of Historical Research in Marketing, I want to welcome back you back after such a long absence. They say absence makes the heart go fonder so I hope our loyal members did not fall out of love for us? I also want to congratulate our new members for having seen the light and decided to our join this very elite group of fine researchers and academics. And for those who are not yet members, but just browsing around, I hope that you will join us after glancing at the rich content of RIM

This is my first issue of being the Editor. I hope it won’t be my last? As you can well understand I am new at this job. I made a call for help in mid August to all members asking for their cooperation in submitting to me any information that may be of interest to our members. Of course, the news items had to have a historical significance more or less. A number of weeks passed before I received feedback from a few members. The information received in included in this issue of RIM. As you can well understand, if I don’t get your input, the content and frequency of the RIM will suffer. So please send me items that you’ve come across that may be relevant to our members. 

As in the past, I have continued the tradition of having a section devoted to new publications. I have taken the liberty of adding additional editorial comments to the new information sources. After all, as the editor it’s part of his job to add insightful comments. However, you may find some of my comments to be rather neat picky. That’s ok because I am a Virgo and we Virgos have a reputation of being very meticulous and we love details. If you want to add comments to my comments, feel free to let me know and I will make sure to include them in the next issue of the RIM Newsletter, provided of course that they can be printed! 


The 11th Conference on Historical Analysis & Research in Marketing was held last May 15 – 18 at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan.  Over fifty participants made this year’s attendance the highest since 1993.  Forty papers were presented at the conference; 26 full papers and 14 abstracts were published in the Conference Proceedings, “The Romance of Marketing History”, edited by Eric Shaw.  At the conclusion of the conference, the Association for Historical Research in Marketing held its biennial general meeting where new board members and executive members were elected.  Members of the AHRIM voted to hold the 2005 CHARM in Long Beach, California where Terry Witkowski will act as Arrangements Chair.  Full minutes of the AHRIM meeting, the 2005 Call for Papers, and other news arising from the 11th CHARM can be found elsewhere on this website.


I know many of you are already familiar with CHORD (www.wlv.ac.uk) but I simply want to make sure you have all the details about this rather new group devoted mainly to retailing history and consumption. CHORD was established in Great Britain in September 1998, and it is located at the University of Wolverhampton. The contact person is Laura Ugolini (l.ugolini@wlv.ac.uk. ).

CHORD is the Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution at the University of Wolverhampton, Great Britain. The name was changed recently (May 2003). Before it was known as the Committee for the History of Retailing and Distribution. 

CHORD organizes a number of conferences and seminars every year.

The latest conference called Trade: Histories, Cultures and Economies, organized by CHORD, was held on September 10-11, 2003 and the details as well as paper abstracts are available on the web site called. If any of our members attended the conference please make sure to send me information and I will make sure to share this information with our members.  

The growing literature on marketing history

Here’s an interesting new book for those marketing historian interested in retailing, culture of consumption, and other related topics.

Mark Pendergrast (2003), Mirror Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection, NY: Basic Books.

One important fact in the book is that Venice had a monopoly on the making of mirror until France’s Louis 14th, bribed 2 disaffected workers to learn about the making of mirror manufacturing, especially the use of luminous mercury facing. The King guaranteed them safety and thus France was able to break the monopoly. The Château of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors is an example of what French tradesmen learned from Venetians mirror manufacturers. I haven’t read this book yet but I am keen on knowing if the author discusses AT Stewart’s huge custom made mirrors installed in his 1846 Marble Place, the very first department store (according to yours truly). Stewart wanted to impress his customers by placing such mirrors in order to give the appearance that the store was double its size. These mirrors were made in France; the largest ever imported in the US at that time. They measured 56 inches in width by 158 inches in height, or roughly 5 feet wide by 13 feet long. Notwithstanding the promotional spill over effects the mirrors had on the Marble Palace, we cannot neglect the amazing feat relating to the packing, transportation and handling of such fragile goods over long distances. Their logistical costs most have been enormous.  

Urban History Yearbook then Urban History  (the academic journal replacing the yearbook) has been publishing a bibliography on historical articles and research papers since 1974. The list is organized according to main themes by section. Section V1 is on Economic and a sub-section is on retailing. The list of journals consulted is impressive. Many are rather esoteric and hard to locate. Nevertheless, the listing is impressive and needs to be consulted from time to time. The list of journals consulted now numbers close to 170. The number varies from year to year due to additions and deletions. The list contains articles in French, English, German, Italian, and Spanish. Many of the publications are European based. However, some journals are missing in the list such as: Accounting History, American Heritage, American History, Journal of Macromarketing, and many historically-oriented economic journals. The explanation is simple: the list includes only those publications that are related directly or indirectly to urban history. 

KIPnotes from www.kipnotes.com are an excellent source of historical information pertinent to marketing. KIPnotes are “dedicated to business history and management literacy.” You will find information on books but not articles. The information is divided according to topics:

(1) Business History

(2) Retail Early history to 1850

(3) Retail History from 1850

Retail is further divided in subcategories

Retail Specialty, Retail Discount, Retail Food, Retail Department Store.

KIPnotes also has interviews and films. In fact it says the “largest multimedia collection of business histories and management title available anywhere.” Entries are organized by subject, company, year, author.  

While the following information source has been briefly described in the November issue, I want to add more information without being redundant. The University of Western Ontario has a neat web site devoted to business history. http://www.lib.uwo.ca/business/cohistbooks.html. Jerry Mulcahy, Director-Business Library, has been working on a part-time project for some time. In a correspondence I had with him here’s what he says:

It began simply as a bibliography of corporate histories, which were available in the libraries at the University of Western Ontario. Since there was no easy way to locate them, I thought I would create a list. With the development of the web, I thought I would make the list more readily available to others. Then I began thinking about ways to improve and expand the list. One of the things I have done is provide some full text articles from old newspapers and added some links. And so it goes. ..I have been trying to build a list by industry, but I will warn you that it is not complete. Some of the department stores are listed. For a good example of what I have done, see Dupuis Frères, David Spencer, or Eaton’s. I also captured the page from Montgomery Ward when it closed, but generally I am trying to pay more attention to Canadian companies. While technically the site could be better (with more cross-links, etc) it still can be a useful research tool.

Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario London, Ontario.  

The Canadian Centre of Architecture (CCA) www.cca.qc.ca

For all those marketing historians interested in architectural history, here’s a reference that cannot be missed.  I copied the following information for the web site.

“The Library of the CCA is an international research collection devoted to the history of architecture and the built environment. It comprises over 195,000 volumes with emphasis on rare books and special collections relating to the history of architectural theory, practice, and publishing from the fifteenth century to the present. It holds, in addition, over 1,500 current serial subscriptions, over 3,000 retrospective serial titles and a variety of special materials.”

CCA also has an academic program a scholar program. I copied the following information from the web site as well.

“Inaugurated in September 1997, the Study Centre is an international institute for advanced research at the postdoctoral level on all aspects of architectural thought, promoting a broad range of inquiry spanning the boundaries of the field and related disciplines. As the CCA believes that scholarly research has profound cultural implications and that scholars themselves bear social responsibility, Visiting Scholars are encouraged to treat architecture in all its dimensions as a public concern. The Visiting Scholar Program promotes research of very specialized as well as interdisciplinary kinds, offering a unique study environment and full access to the outstanding resources of the Collection and Library. Each year the Visiting Scholars Program appoints 7 to 15 scholars at various stages of their careers, with highly diverse academic and professional accomplishments. The program is guided in its development by a Consultative Committee composed of CCA members and external advisers. This group of specialists supervises the selection process and determines the general direction of Study Centre programs. Visiting Scholars are provided with generous stipends for periods of residency at the CCA ranging from 3 to 8 months. Administrative and research support are also provided as needed. ”  

Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers eds. (2000), Do Americans Shop Too Much? Boston: Beacon Press.

Cohen, Nancy (2002), America’s Marketplace: The History of Shopping Centers, NY.  

The last two books are not yet available but I have ordered them via ILL So next issue I will comment on them. 

Weightman, Gavin (2003), The Frozen Water Trade A True Story, Hyperion.

The book was reviewed by Hardy Green (2003), “The Man Who Brought Ice to the Masses,” Business Week (February 24), p. 22. The book discusses Frederick Tudor, a Boston entrepreneur who created the ice market in the early part of the 19th c. In 1833, he delivered 100 tons of ice to Calcutta. The natural ice market vanished when artificial (i.e. manufactured) ice was made using new inventions in the mid 1800 and beyond. Then, General Electric developed a small motor technology to be used in electric refrigerators, and by 1937, 3 million US homes had an electric refrigerator. And by 1950s, no more (artificial) ice was delivered to the home. Who were the ones to sell this new household invention? After all, if the spread of this technology was so rapid, a ‘transvection’ (i.e. distribution chain had to develop to makes them available and affordable to consumers. We all too often forget the role played by wholesalers and retailers in the spread of new technologies. For example, radio was first commercialized in 1920 and by 1930, had of US households had a radio. This rapid adoption of this new n product is far faster than the Internet or even computers.  

History and the Modern Corporation

Contrary to one’s intuition, the modern corporation did not develop overnight. Yet history books are full of references to companies such as the Hudson’s Bay Company, Company of the North West, East India Company, and so many others that we assumed such companies operated along the similar lines as today’s modern private enterprises. Nothing can be further from the truth. In makes us think about one of Bartels’ statement when he claimed “if there is no market, obviously there is no marketing.” And if there is no private enterprise per se, can there be marketing? That is why the following book is a good one to read.

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge (2003), The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, Modern Library.

 Hudson’s Bay Company received an exclusive charter from the British Crown in 1670. The Bay up to 1846 “functioned explicitly as the agent of the British government on the Pacific coast maintaining close contact with the Foreign Office in London and executing (and to some degree) forming official British policy.” It was a fur trading organization, at least initially. It was also an arm of the government in the new territory and was able to make laws as well as well has prosecuting those who did not obey them. The full official name of the Company as given in the Charter was “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England, trading into Hudson Bay.”

The following book is also informative on the emergence of the modern corporation.

William Pencak, and Conrad E. Wright eds. (1998), New York and the Rise of American Capitalism Economic Development and the Social and Political History of an American State, 1780-1870, NY: The New York Historical Society.

This book of readings has a number of interesting points, especially Gregory Hunter’s discussion in chapter 4  “The Manhattan Company: Managing a Multi Unit Corporation in New York, 1799-1842,” pp. 124-146. We can see the interconnection of private enterprise and the government to the point the author says

the Manhattan Company was subject to scrutiny by both the populace and the politicians. In nineteenth-century America, however, banking also was a ‘public’ activity. In fact, all private corporations¾whether organized for religious, educational, charitable or business purposes¾were ‘quasi public.’ Incorporation was a government way of protecting and encouraging those enterprises it considered to be performing a public service. After incorporation, such public services were carefully watched in both their external and internal affairs (Hunter, p. 133).

See also p. 173 for more information on this topic. See also the following authors to know more on the origin of the limited liability company.

 Shannon, H. A. (1931), “The Coming of General Limited Liability,” History Review, Vol. 2 No. 6. Reprinted in E. M. Carus-Wilson ed. (1954), Essays in Economic History, London: Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd., pp. 358-379.

Shannon, H. A. (1933), “The Limited Companies of 1866-1883,” Economic History Review, Vol. 4 (October No. 3), pp. 290-316. Reprinted in E. M. Carus-Wilson ed. (1954), Essays in Economic History, London: Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd., pp. 380-405.

Oliver Williamson (1981), “The Modern Corporation: Origins, Evolution, Attributes,” Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 19 (December), pp. 1537-1568. The author uses TCA, his particular niche in the field of economics, to show how the modern corporation evolved. 

Benson, John and Laura Ugolini eds. (2003), A Nation of Shopkeepers Five Centuries of British Retailing, London: I. B. Tauris.

The book is a set of readings discussing the history of consumption and retail history in Britain. The book “examines the complex relationship between retailing development and the consuming environment”. The department store is frequently mentioned and discussed but there are no individual articles devoted to the subject matter. But the book present an interesting hypothesis that “‘large scale retailing played a far lesser role in the growth of the modern city than is generally thought and how the success of department stores was determined less by entrepreneurial ‘spirit’ and more by the unforeseen consequences of legislation.” Retail history is by definition multidisciplinary à la macromarketing, but at the same time specialized areas of study are also de rigueur. For example, we can say that consumption history (i.e. consumption historians) is a bone fide sub discipline of retail history, which is also part of marketing history. 

Contributions from our Members

The following information was provided by a number of our members. I want to thank them for their time and effort.  

History Detectives

In Summer 2003, the U.S. Public Broadcasting System began airing a 10-part series called History Detectives.  If you have not yet seen the program, try to find it on your local station.

With its rhythmic theme song and intro shot of the four hosts striding down an urban street, History Detectives pays tongue-in-cheek homage to standard cop shows, but instead of shootings and drug busts, each episode solves three mysteries about artifacts, folklore, and family legends. 

Some of these segments touch upon marketing history.  For example, investigating whether a house in Akron, Ohio was originally sold in kit form by Sears, Roebuck, led to findings about the company’s early product adaptations and promotions.  Research into the ornate Al Ringling Theater in Baraboo, Wisconsin, revealed information about the early marketing of motion pictures.

The real strength of History Detectives is its emphasis upon methodology.  Featured investigative techniques have included ballistics and weapons dating, document examination and paper analysis, property search, historical research, and much more.  Team members are invariably shown locating, evaluating, and analyzing documents in libraries, historical societies, and government archives.  

Examining primary sources may not be as quick and painless as depicted on television (you don’t videotape the tedious parts, after all), but it can be very satisfying and, with luck, should produce original contributions to the field of marketing history.

Series highlights, publicity, learning activities, and quite a bit of additional information can be found at the History Detectives website:  www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives

Terry Witkowski
Pacific RIM Correspondent

Exotic Visions in Marketing Theory and Practice

My book "Exotic Visions in Marketing Theory and Practice" is to be translated into Chinese published by Sinotrust Consulting of Bejing China.  I have just received word that Sinotrust has reached an agreement with Greenwood/Quorum, the original publishers. Marketing historians will be interested because much of the book is an intellectual history of marketing linking trends in the fields to major scholars and chains of thought in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. 

Alf Walle
Southeast Correspondent



The Landscape of History

Marketing historians are not known as methodological zealots, but here is a new book on historiography that you may find interesting and useful.  The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past, by John Lewis Gaddis, Oxford University Press, had its origins in a series of lectures Gaddis gave at Oxford and explores the relationship between history and science.  New York Times reviewer Alan Brinkley describes it as a “brief, provocative and intelligent examination of historical scholarship”.

Brian Jones


From Stan Hollander’s Bookshelf


While he has been officially retired from Michigan State University for several years now, Stan Hollander unofficially retired last year giving up his office at the Eli Broad College of Business.  One of his new-found interests is BookTV, a 48 hour non-stop weekend special on C-SPAN2.  From recent weekly broadcasts Stan recommends the following recently published books which may be of interest to marketing historians.


Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, 1903-2003, by Douglas Brinkley, Viking Press.

Power and Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe, by Peter Spufford, Thames & Hudson Pub.


Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, by Eric Schlosser, Houghton Mifflin Co.


Kindred Spirits: Harvard Business School’s Extraordinary Class of 1949 and How they Transformed American Business, by Forbes Inc. & David Callahan, John Wiley & Sons.



Let’s hope that the next issue of RIM will again be full of interesting and insightful comments.


Dr. Robert D. Tamilia
Editor, RIM
Professor of Marketing
École des sciences de la gestion
University of Quebec at Montreal
P.O. Box 6192 Succ. Downtown
Montreal, Quebec Canada H3C 4R2
(514) 987-3000 ext 3897
Fax (514) 987-0422


Updated March 6, 2012.
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