In Kathryn McKay’s “The Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910,” published in the winter 2015 Utah Historical Quarterly, readers see candy boxes and store front windows depicting women and girls dressed in fashionable clothing—all in an attempt to sell chocolate manufactured by the J. G. McDonald Company. These advertisements reflect the emergence of a highly consumptive society and the homogenization of mass culture that sought to cater to female consumers—many of whom had recently entered the work force as wage laborers—and to use female images to sell clothes, appliances, and other products. The following is a sampling of photos at the Utah State Historical Society that represent women and gender in advertisements during the first half of the twentieth century.
Auerbach & Bro. originated with Samuel H. Auerbach, who shortly after arriving in Salt Lake City in 1859 set up “The People’s Store” on Main Street. Eventually, after several relocations, the company settled down in a building on State and Broadway.
Auerbach Bros. storefront window display, September 25, 1908
Arthur Frank established a clothing store at Midvale, one of a number of well-established Jewish stores and businesses in Utah in the early twentieth century.
Bonnie Lee Shoppe, located at 53 East and 300 South in Salt Lake City.
Utah Power & Light, established in 1912 as a subsidiary of a larger holding company in New York, consolidated a number of small companies to become the largest electric power provider in Utah. Utah Power & Light worked to interconnect all its companies into an integrated system. By the ?, when these advertisements appeared, electric power was widely available to homes and businesses along the Wasatch Front and elsewhere throughout the state. In advertisements often depicting domestic scenes and the time-saving use of household appliances, the company sought to “promote the sale of electricity,” in the words of the historian John S. McCormick. (“The Beginning of Modern Electric Power Service in Utah, 1912–22,” Utah Historical Quarterly 56 [Winter 1988]: 5–22.)
Utah Power & Light Company advertisement
An advertisement in the Utah Farmer journal, depicting two men and a “farmer’s wife” listening to a political candidate through the medium of radio. By 1925, when this ad appeared, women had finally won the vote.