The Ohio State University Press

Historical Perspectives on Business Enterprise

Edited by Mansel G. Blackford and K. Austin Kerr

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

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Historical Perspectives on Business Enterprise

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Kotex, Kleenex, Huggies

Kimberly-Clark and the Consumer Revolution in American Business

At the core of Kotex, Kleenex, Huggies is the riveting story of Kimberly-Clark, a Wisconsin company that became a pioneer of personal hygiene products in the twentieth century. Its first big commercial success was Kotex, which came from sanitary wound bandages developed in World War I. Similarly, Kleenex evolved from Army gas mask filters into disposable handkerchiefs and became the company's most reliable profit maker. Finally, Huggies turned Kimberly-Clark into a leading player in the highly competitive diaper market of the 1970s and 1980s. In addition to tracing Kimberly-Clark’s fascinating history of technology development and product diversification, Heinrich and Batchelor explore momentous changes in consumer behavior and marketing. When Kotex first arrived on the scene in the 1920s, menstrual hygiene was burdened with cultural taboos that made it impossible for many women to ask the (inevitably male) pharmacist for a sanitary napkin. To solve such vexing marketing problems, Kimberly-Clark invented the artificial word “Kotex” and inserted it into consumer vocabulary through massive advertising campaigns. Making it easier for women to shop for the new product, Kimberly-Clark also recommended that stores place boxes of Kotex on the counter where women could help themselves without embarrassing conversation, thus pioneering the concept of self-service.

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Unexceptional Women

Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830-1885

Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830–1885 by Susan Ingalls Lewis challenges our conceptions about mid-nineteenth-century American women, business, and labor, offering a detailed study of female proprietors in one industrializing American city. Analyzing the careers of more than two thousand women who owned or operated businesses between 1830 and 1885, Lewis argues that business provided a common, important, and varied occupation for nineteenth-century working women. Based on meticulous research in city directories, census records, and credit reports, this study provides both a demographic portrait of Albany’s female proprietors and an examination of the size, scope, longevity, financing, and creditworthiness of their ventures. Although the growing city did produce several remarkable businesswomen in trades as diverse as hotel management, plumbing, and the marketing of pianos on the installment plan, Albany’s female proprietors were most often self-employed artisans, shopkeepers, petty manufacturers, and service providers. These women used business as a method of self-employment and survival, as a means of both individual and family mobility, and as a strategy for immigrant assimilation into an urban economy and middle-class lifestyle. Intriguingly, among the ranks of Albany’s female proprietors Lewis discovered substantial evidence of such supposedly recent phenomena as self-employment, dual-income marriages, working motherhood, home-based business, and the juggling of domestic and professional priorities. The stories of these businesswomen make fascinating reading while simultaneously providing the basis for a theoretical discussion of how to define and understand enterprise for mid-nineteenth-century women.

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