Twentieth Century Consumerism through Newspaper Ads

Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Georgia’s newspaper advertisement pages were primarily filled with land sale notices and ads that called for the return of self-emancipated African Americans. After the Civil War, the effects of the Second Industrial Revolution resulted in the increasing presence of advertisements for manufactured goods in the state’s newspapers. At the same time, the development of national newspaper advertising agencies increased the availability and importance of advertising dollars to newspaper publishers. By the 1920s, the country was experiencing unprecedented prosperity. Increasing levels of disposable income coupled with cheaper manufactured products resulted in a consumer culture that fueled changes in the content of newspaper ads. A newspaper subscriber in Georgia could find ads for cars, soft drinks, phonographs, and vacations nestled alongside their local news. With expanding page counts, there was space for increasingly larger ads to catch the reader’s attention. As the United States progressed through the Great Depression and World War II (1941-45), the purchasing behaviors of Americans changed, but advertisements in Georgia’s newspapers maintained the conspicuous style that rose to prominence in the early twentieth century.