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Fun and Facts about American Business: Economic Education and Business Propaganda in an Early Cold War Cartoon Series

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2015

CAROLINE JACK*
Affiliation:
Caroline Jack is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at Cornell University. Contact information: Department of Communication, Cornell University, 336 Kennedy Hall, Ithaca NY 14853. Telephone: 607-255-2601. E-mail: csj44@cornell.edu.

Abstract

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, millions of theatergoers, students, and industrial workers saw one or more animated short films, shot in Technicolor and running eight to nine minutes, that were designed to build public support for the principles and practices of free enterprise. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation quietly funded the production of this series of cartoons, titled Fun and Facts about American Business, through multiple grants to industrial animation house John Sutherland Productions via Harding College, an evangelical college in rural Arkansas that would become known nationally for its anti-communist and conservative political activism. This article examines the creation and distribution of the Fun and Facts films in the years 1946 through 1952 as a notable case of ephemeral film and as an example of the Cold War public relations movement known as “economic education.” Further, the article examines the consequences of economic education as a conceptual category on the production and distribution of Cold War industrial propaganda.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author 2015. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Business History Conference. All rights reserved. 

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References

Bibliography of Works Cited

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Barrier, Michael. Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beder, Sharon. Free Market Missionaries: The Corporate Manipulation of Community Values. London: Earthscan, 2006.Google Scholar
Belmonte, Laura A. Selling the American Way: U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bernhard, Nancy E. U.S. Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947–1960. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Bird, William. “Better Living”: Advertising, Media, and the New Vocabulary of Business Leadership, 1935–1955. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Carey, Alex. Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty. Champaign, IL: Illini Books, 1997.Google Scholar
Farber, David. Sloan Rules: Alfred P. Sloan and the Triumph of General Motors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.Google Scholar
Fones-Wolf, Elizabeth A. Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945–1960. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994.Google Scholar
Gaddis, John Lewis. The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941–1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
Hicks, L. Edward. “Sometimes in the Wrong, But Never in Doubt”: George S. Benson and the Education of the New Religious Right. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994.Google Scholar
Klein, Norman M. 7 Minutes: The Life and Death of the American Animated Cartoon. New York: Verso, 1993.Google Scholar
McCarthy, Anna. The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America. New York: The New Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Moreton, Bethany. To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osgood, Kenneth. Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006.Google Scholar
Phillips-Fein, Kim. Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009.Google Scholar
Prelinger, Rick. The Field Guide To Sponsored Films. San Francisco: National Film Preservation Foundation, 2006.Google Scholar
Scott, Keith. The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Smoodin, Eric. Animating Culture: Hollywood Cartoons from the Sound Era. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
Taylor, Philip M. Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day. New York: Manchester University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Tedlow, Richard S. Keeping the Corporate Image: Public Relations and Business, 1900–1950. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1979.Google Scholar
Waldron, Gloria. The Information Film: A Report of the [Twentieth Century Fund] Public Library Inquiry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Waterhouse, Benjamin. Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.Google Scholar
Wurtzler, Steve J. Electric Sounds: Technological Change and the Rise of Corporate Mass Media. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DelGaudio, Sybil. “If Truth Be Told, Can ’Toons Tell It? Documentary and Animation.” Film History 9 (1997): 189199.Google Scholar
Grem, Darren E. “Christianity Today, J. Howard Pew, and the Business of Conservative Evangelism.” Enterprise and Society 15, no. 2 (2014): 337379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lee, Frederic S. “Philanthropic Foundations and the Rehabilitation of Big Business, 1934–1977; A Case Study of Directed Economic Research.” Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology 15 (1997): 5190.Google Scholar
Oakes, Brian. “Building Films for Business: Jamison Handy and the Industrial Animation of the Jam Handy Organization.” Film History 22 (2010): 95107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Orgeron, Devin, Orgeron, Marsha, and Streible, Dan. “A History of Learning with the Lights Off.” In Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States, edited by Orgeron, Devin, Orgeron, Marsha, and Streible, Dan, 1566. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Streible, Dan. “The Failure of the NYU Educational Film Institute.” In Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States, edited by Orgeron, Devin, Orgeron, Marsha, and Streible, Dan, 271294. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Brady, Thomas F., “Cartoon Film Stirs Dispute in West by Satirizing Farm Planning.” New York Times, March 18, 1951.Google Scholar
“Educators, Be Wary!”, Educational Screen 30, no. 5 (1951): 172.Google Scholar
Link, Henry C., “How to Sell America to Americans.” Business Screen 9, no. 1 (1948): 20.Google Scholar
Sloan, Harold S. “Sloan Foundation Aids Research in Attack on Economic problems.” New York Times, August 21, 1938.Google Scholar
George Benson Papers, Ann Cowan Dixon Archives and Special Collections, Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas.Google Scholar
John Sutherland Productions public relations materials, personal collection held by journalist Mark D. Arnold and shared with the author by request.Google Scholar
Library of Congress, Motion Picture and Television Copyright Records, Washington, DC.Google Scholar