Hagley Seminar on Business, Culture & Politics

Building on the long legacy of the Hagley Research seminar, the Hagley Seminar on Business, Culture, and Politics features original and creative work-in-progress essays that make use of business history sources. 

All seminars are held on Zoom between noon and 1:30 p.m. Eastern USA time. Seminars are based on a paper that is circulated in advance. Preregistration is required and space is limited. To find registration links as well as additional information on the seminars, please go to https://www.hagley.org/research/research-seminars. Questions may be sent to Carol Lockman, clockman@Hagley.org

2023 Spring Seminar Series

February 22, noon-1:30

Moeko Yamazaki, University of Oregon

“Making the World on Time: The Vietnam War, Deregulation and the Birth of FedEx”

Comment: Marc Levinson, Independent Scholar

April 5, noon-1:30

Angus McLeod, University of Pennsylvania

“Schools and Economic Development in Antebellum Texas”

Comment: John Majewski, University of California, Santa Barbara

May 3, noon-1:30

Brent Cebul, University of Pennsylvania

 “Creating the Intern: Philanthropy, Universities, and the New Deal”

Comment: Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, Loyola University of Chicago

Call for Proposals – the Hagley Seminar on Business, Culture, and Politics

Building on the 30-year legacy of the Hagley Research seminar, The Hagley Seminar on Business and Culture will feature innovative work in progress essays that expand the boundaries of studies using business history sources. The seminar seeks unpublished papers that place commercial activity, and the institutions that generate and regulate such, within the dynamics of the cultures in which they are embedded. 

Papers should be empirically rich, conceptually framed, and offer an original argument or set of insights. Ideally papers will be at a point of development that the author will be able to change the text in response to seminary comments. Papers eithers accepted or under consideration for publication are not eligible. While we look forward to sharing work that makes use of Hagley’s research collections, papers need not do so to be considered for inclusion in the seminar series. 

The papers will be pre-circulated to seminar participants and commentators. It will meet virtually, facilitating the participation of scholars outside of the immediate neighborhood of Hagley’s Wilmington, Delaware campus. It will meet from noon until 1:30 EST to facilitate participation of scholars from a range of time zones. 

To propose a paper, please submit a draft of between 4,000 and 14,000 words (including notes); if you plan to expand the text for the seminar, also include information on your plans to do so. Please also include a 150 word abstract, brief summary of sources used, and a cv of no more than 2 pages. These materials should go to Carol Lockman, clockman@Hagley.org. Suggestions for commentators on the paper are welcome. Currently we are scheduling papers for our spring 2023 series, but proposals will be considered on a rolling basis and the author is encouraged to suggest a good month for them to present. 

Hagley Library – Avon Archive event 7 May (Zoom)


Sponsored by the Hagley Library, Wilmington DE

Friday May 7, 9 am – 12 noon EST via Zoom

In the 20 years since Avon Products, Inc., deposited its records at Hagley Library they have become one of our most popular research collections. A virtual event on May 7 will bring attention to their contribution to history. 

Avon Products, Inc., is one of the oldest direct selling companies in America. It traces its origins to 1886, when David H. McConnell bought the Union Publishing Company and started manufacturing perfumes to give away with his books. McConnell discovered that his customers were more interested in the fragrances than the books, so he decided to concentrate on selling perfumes. The business was renamed the California Perfume Company (CPC) in an effort to associate its products with the perceived beauty of the Golden State.

From the beginning, CPC sold directly to the consumer through a national network of sales representatives, primarily women, who were looking for economic opportunity and flexible part-time employment. In 1929, CPC introduced the Avon brand in an effort to modernize its image. The corporation was renamed Avon Products, Inc. in 1950. Avon rapidly expanded into the international market during the 1950s and 1960s, principally Latin America and Europe. By the early 1970s, Avon International operated in sixteen countries. 

Speakers at the event will come from around the USA and Europe and discuss Avon’s activities in the United States, Brazil, and Italy, as well as its efforts to reach out to African American women and diversity its American salesforce. The event’s keynote will be offered by Katina Manko, who helped bring the Avon Collection to Hagley. Manko’s book, Ding Dong! Avon Calling!: The Women and Men of Avon Products, Incorporated will be published in June.  Full details of the forum at https://www.hagley.org/avon-international-forum-its-archive .

Katina Manko, Independent Scholar, “Ding Dong! Avon Calling!: The Women and Men of Avon Products, Incorporated”

Jessica Burch, Denison University, “‘Soap and Hope’: Direct Sales and the Culture of Work and Capitalism in Postwar America

Jessica Chelekis, Brunel Business School, “Avon in the Brazilian Amazon: Direct Sales and Consumption among Vulnerable Communities”

Lindsey Feitz, University of Denver, “Creating a Multicultural Soul: Avon, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Race in the 1970s”

Shawn Moura, Director of Research at NAIOP, “Exploring Avon’s Encounter with Gender, Race, and Class in Brazil, 1958-1975”

Emanuela Scarpellini, University of Milan, “Transnational Beauty: Avon International and the Case of Italy”

Advance registration is required to view the pre-circulated papers and to participate in the conference sessions; there is no fee to register.  Register at https://www.hagley.org/research/conferences/avon-forum-conference-registration