Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Soap

Collection ID:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969
Physical Description:
4.65 Cubic feet
consisting of 9 boxes, 2 folders, 19 oversize folders, 8 map case folder, plus digital images of some collection material.
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Soap forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This material consists primarily of printed advertisements from magazines, bills/receipts, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, price lists, business cards, handbills, labels, premiums, advertising cards, leaflets, patents and trademarks from manufacturers and distributors of soap. There is a substantial amount of material from some of the larger soap manufacturers which include Procter & Gamble, Lever Brothers and Colgate. Soap manufacturers tended to distribute products to consumers. There are some businesses that created products for manufacturers and exporters. There are also a number of references to perfumers, chemists and dermatologists.
A large majority of the soap manufacturers also tended to make candles. These businesses sold other products including baking powder, yeast, baking soda, saleratus, blacking, polish, leather preservatives, grease, swine, neats foot oil, hides, scraps, stocks, tallow and wool skins. Products associated with the laundry including starch, bluing, washing powders and washing fluids were also sold. Personal products such as perfumes, creams, and lotions were available.
There is a wide variety of soap consisting of bars, powders, liquids, crystal and granulated types, The soap was manufactured for personal hygiene, commercial laundry, household, chemical and medical purposes.
Images are found predominantly on the advertising cards. Most of these images are of different ethnic groups and tend to be stereotypical in nature. Irish, Native American, German and African American images represent the majority of these images. Women, children and pets, birds and scenic vistas are also visually represented.
Most of the publications are included with company related materials. Many of these publications discuss the history of the company. Other publications include a copy of Consumer Report and a book of photographs of soap bars available prior to 1940 and the wrappers published by the National Soap Sculpture Committee in New York.
Materials are organized alphabetically by name of company. There are a number of materials arranged by type including official documents, patents, trademarks, recipes, photographs and import/export documents.

Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Nicole Blechynden
Funding for partial processing of the collection was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
Processing Information
Oversize material is unprocessed. Details for additional collection material can be found in the Contents/Container List.
In 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History implemented the use of minimal level processing standards to increase information about and facilitate access to more of our collections.
A large portion of stored material from the original acquisition received minimal level processing, which resulted in additions to this Subject category. This effort included basic arrangement and replacement of non-archival housing for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed. Revisions to the encoded finding aid were made to reflect the added content in context to the previously processed material.
Minimal level processing and enhancement of the machine-readable finding aid completed by Nicole Blechynden, September 2017.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Soap is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Soap, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
Conditions Governing Use note
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Materials in the Archives Center
Materials in the Archives Center
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)

Forms Part Of

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Business ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012