From despicable to collectible: The evolution of collective memories for and the value of black advertising memorabilia

Stacey Menzel Baker, Carol M. Motley, Geraldine R. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


We explore the dynamic nature of society's memories for and value ascribed to advertising materials from the past. Specifically, we examine the active negotiation of the meanings of promotional materials containing stereotypical personifications of African Americans created and disseminated between 1860 and 1960. To describe and interpret how the cultural meanings and economic, symbolic, and aesthetic values associated with these marketing materials evolved, we use group level theories, the sociological framework of collective memory, and rubbish theory from social anthropology. These promotional materials were transformed from acceptable mass-produced commercial advertisements, to despicable representations of a group of people that were "hidden" or destroyed, to highly desirable collectibles commanding top dollar on the secondary market. Collective memories as recorded in the print press for three decades are examined to illustrate attitudinal and value shifts among Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Marketing

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