Today’s post was written by Laney Stevenson, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve gathered together some registered patent labels representing standards of beauty for women in the first half of the 20th century as well as depictions of women reinforcing stereotypes commonly held at the time. All of the labels are from Record Group 241, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, Case Files for Registered Product Labels, 1874-1940, NAID 563415. These patent labels have been digitized and will soon be available in the National Archives Catalog.
The Baroness Cigars, 1901 – This label depicts a series of women in the style of Charles Dana Gibson’s creation of the “Gibson Girl.” She reflects the standards of feminine beauty from the turn of the century with her fine features, upswept hair, and demure gaze.
Miss Sophomore Slip, 1933 – By the mid-1930s, the ideal female figure was small-waisted and slim-hipped to accentuate the elegant and form-fitting clothing styles. Of course, this silhouette was unrealistic for most women and was achieved with corsets, slips, and other undergarments.
Squeeze Me Oranges and Grapefruit, 1935 – The bobbed hair and youthful features of the 1920s continued to be a popular look for women well into the 1930s and her alluring gaze is an added enticement in this playful advertisement for citrus fruit. Continue reading