Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Albert W. Hampson Commercial Artwork Collection

Collection ID:
Hampson, Albert W., 1911-1990 (artist)
Physical Description:
6 Cubic feet
Collection consists of the commercial artwork created by artist Albert W. Hampson dating predominately from during the 1950s and 1960s.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection documents the creation of promotional and advertising materials through photographs, original artwork and completed print advertisements and point-of-purchase displays. The research value of the collection lies in the documentation of this process. Researchers will find that these materials demonstrate how ideas are conceived and then expressed by artists for their clients. Evidence of decision making and collaboration between the artist and the client is illustrated by elements such as color choices or model poses. Often this evidence is lost when the only record saved is the completed advertisement or display. A good example of the developmental/creative process, complete with finished product, is the Tung-Sol Radio Tubes project. Materials also demonstrate the variety and occurrence of advertising projects during the mid-twentieth century. The artist created documents and artwork for different markets, both the consumer and the company.
Materials are arranged first by parent company, then by product or brand name. However, there are a very small number of items, with obscure affiliations to a company listed by product name. Corporate ownership of many of these companies and products has changed since the era that Hampson was working in, but their historical application has been maintained in this container list. Researchers must research product or company names within their historical context.

The collection is arranged in five series.
Series 1, Personal Papers, 1928-1980, undated
Series 2, Early Artwork, 1926-1927, undated
Series 3, Commercial Artwork, 1934-1969, undated
Series 4, Artwork for Covers of Publications, 1937-1950s, undated
Series 5, Portraits, 1951-1977,; undated

Albert W. Hampson was born May 20, 1910, in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He demonstrated artistic ability at an early age, winning all of the available school awards. Observing teachers encouraged him to pursue a career as an artist. His mother's death and father's unemployment forced him to get a job while still attending high school. He balanced work, school, and art all through his adolescence.
After his graduation from Northeast High School in June of 1927, Hampson pursued his art education at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (the University of the Arts) until June of 1931. While at the university, he was quarterback of the Germantown Boys Club football team and a semi-pro team in Chestnut Hill, and he attended the Cape Cod School of Art under a scholarship provision, for one year in 1930. Also during his education, and after graduation, Hampson earned a living by providing draft and architectural drawings for several Philadelphia architects. He was driving a bread wagon and preparing advertising layouts for a Philadelphia bakery, the Old Bond Bakery, when he got his first big break: one of his oil paintings was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on November 30, 1934. Between 1935 and 1944, his work appeared on the covers of Post and Look magazines more than a dozen times.
Hampson had been working as a commercial artist for a decade and was well established before marrying Josephine Unger Corson, a jewelry designer and librarian, on February 7, 1945. They had two children, Hillary, born 1945, and Theodore "Ted" born 1956.
In his personal life Hampson was known for his strong political opinions and work ethic, sometimes working eighteen hours a day. He did not believe in short-cuts, and his determination for perfection was evident in his do-it-yourself landscaping, according to his son. He spent time away from home, working five days a week in New York when Ted was young, but Hampson always brought gifts home and was ready for a discussion on politics. He was an active member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, the oldest continuing artist organization in the nation. He was remembered by long-time colleague and friend, Fred Decker, as a staunch democrat (borderline socialist) who firmly publicized his views. This tenacious attitude provided him with the abilities of a great salesman, and knowing how to sell ideas can make a great commercial artist, as his son noted. He also had personal success as a father figure, according to Ted.
Hampson enjoyed a long and successful career as a freelance artist, staff artist, and art director for several New York and Philadelphia advertising agencies. He illustrated books and dust jackets and was a noted portrait painter. His work also encompassed commercial art, newspapers and magazines, point-of-purchase product displays, and was employed by such noted corporations as Johnson & Johnson™, DuPont©, General Electric©, Hiram Walker & Sons Inc., & Philco Television©. Hampson credited his success to the Saturday Evening Post for giving him the courage to continue as an artist. He saved examples, along with scrapbooks, photographs and business correspondence, as a record of his work. Ted preserved his father's collection after his death on February 19, 1990. His collection was donated to the Smithsonian on September 5, 1996 by Theodore "Ted" Hampson, who worked as a News Editor in Chicago until his death at forty–four years of age in 2000.

Jennifer Namsiriwan and Vanessa Broussard-Simmons
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Hampson's son, Theodore Hampson, September 1996.
Processing Information
Processed by Jennifer Namsiriwan, intern, 2006; Jennifer Ann Danenberg, intern, 2007; supervised by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, supervisory archivist.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Albert W. Hampson Commercial Artwork Collection, 1926-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
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.

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Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Slides (photographs) Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
advertising -- 20th century Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Advertising art -- 20th century Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Advertising agencies -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Advertisements Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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