Skip to main content

Avon Products Inc. photographs and audiovisual materials

1858-2007
 Collection
Accession: 1997-209

Abstract

Avon Products, Inc. is a manufacturer and direct selling company of beauty products. It is one of the oldest direct selling companies in America. The company was founded in 1886 by David H. McConnell (1856-1937) as the California Perfume Company (CPC). McConnell established a manufacturing headquarters and research laboratory in Suffern, New York, in the 1890s. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, CPC expanded its line of products to include cosmetics, household cleaners, food flavorings, and toiletries. The collection consists of photographs, negatives, slides, films, videos and sound recordings date from 1856 to 2000. The materials depict Avon products, their manufacture, packaging and sale, Avon employees and representatives and the offices, laboratories, factories and other structures owned by Avon Products, Inc. The collection is organized into ten series: Administration, Conferences, Non-sales employees, Domestic locations, International locations, Public relations, Sales managers and representatives, Selling methods and sales aids, Company history and philosophy, and Library, music, and museum.

Dates

  • 1858-2007

Creator

Extent

70 Linear Feet

Physical Description

3,780 photographic prints. 1,575 slides. 950 negatives. 185 transparencies. 170 master video tapes. 160 contact sheets. 152 VHS video tapes. 100 films. 70 Beta video tapes. 64 audio tapes. 51 records. 44 film strips. 21 master audiotapes. 3.2 GB digital files.

Historical Note

Avon Products, Inc. is a manufacturer and direct selling company of beauty products. It is one of the oldest direct selling companies in America. It traces its origins to 1886, when David H. McConnell (1856-1937) bought the Union Publishing Company of New York City and started manufacturing perfumes to give away with his books. McConnell discovered that his customers were more interested in the fragrances than the books, and 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 and novelty 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. The representatives were independent contractors, who sold CPC products within their assigned territory and received a percentage of their sales. Representatives were supervised by general agents (later known as district supervisors and managers). These district managers were also primarily women who traveled from town to town.

McConnell established a manufacturing headquarters and research laboratory in Suffern, New York, in the 1890s. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, CPC expanded its line of products to include cosmetics, household cleaners, food flavorings, and toiletries. In 1929, CPC introduced the Avon brand for its toiletries and cosmetics in an effort to modernize its image and rationalize its diverse product lines. David H. McConnell, Sr., died in 1937 and was succeeded by his son, David H. McConnell, Jr. (1901-1944). CPC was officially renamed Avon Products, Inc., in 1939 to reflect the company's identification with its popular cosmetics and toiletry lines. Avon grew increasingly successful and profitable during the 1940s, and the company expanded into the international market in the 1950s. In 1953, a Latin American division was established and in 1957, Avon entered Europe with the formation of an English company, Avon Cosmetics, Limited. By the early 1970's, Avon International operated in sixteen countries.

Avon diversified in the 1970s. Costume jewelry, fine jewelry, gift and decorative items were introduced to the product line, and the company entered the mail order business in 1973. The decade of the 1980s was a period of merger and acquisition for the company. Avon briefly entered the health care field, expanded its direct mail order business, and ventured into retail fragrance sales. By 1992, Avon had reduced its debt, sold its money-losing non-core businesses, streamlined operations, and refocused on beauty products and direct selling. In the 1990s, the company renewed its international expansion with a focus on developing and post-communist countries. Avon emphasized its role as a woman's company in the 1990s and sponsored the Women of Enterprise awards, a breast cancer awareness program, and a women's international running circuit. By 1998, 86 percent of management positions at Avon were held by women, and Andrea Jung became Avon's first woman president and chief operating officer.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of photographs, negatives, slides, films, videos and sound recordings date from 1856 to 2000. The materials depict Avon products, their manufacture, packaging and sale, Avon employees and representatives and the offices, laboratories, factories and other structures owned by Avon Products, Inc.

The collection is organized into ten series: Administration, Conferences, Non-sales employees, Domestic locations, International locations, Public relations, Sales managers and representatives, Selling methods and sales aids, Company history and philosophy, and Library, music, and museum.

The Administration series contains photographs and portraits of Avon presidents, executives, and board members which date from 1898 to 2000. Included are photographs of the following Avon presidents: David H. McConnell, David H. McConnell, Jr., John A. Ewald, Russel Rooks, Wayne Hicklin, Fred G. Fusee, David W. Mitchell, William R. Chaney, and James E. Preston. A video illustrating the life of founder David H. McConnell is also included. Photographs of Avon presidents are arranged in order of their presidency, followed by other executives arranged alphabetically.

The Conferences series is divided into two subseries: Non-sales meetings and Sales meetings both are arranged alphabetically by location.

The Non-sales meetings subseries consists of photographs and videos from management and general meetings which date from 1940 to 2003. Most of these meetings were held in New York City. However, meetings in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Newark, Pasadena, and Suffern are also represented. The videos are instructional materials used in the meetings. Also included are slides unused in presentations at management meetings and an album from the Avon Canada Board of Directors meeting.

The Sales meetings subseries contains photographs, films, film strips, recordings, cassette tapes, videodiscs, and videos from sales meetings which date from 1939 to 1998. Most of these meetings were held in Kansas City of New York City. However, meeting in Denver, Munich (Germany), Newark, Pasadena, and Springdale are also represented. The films, filmstrips, records, cassette tapes, videodisc, and videos are instructional materials used in the meetings. Also included are slides used in a presentation for a 1984 sales meeting.

The Non-sales employees series is divided into four subseries: Employees at work, Publications, Recognition, and Social events. All are arranged alphabetically.

The Employees at work subseries are photographs of Avon employees in offices, laboratories, manufacturing, and shipping. Most of these employees worked in Suffern between 1900 and 1974. Other photographs show employees from Kansas City, Monrovia, Morton Grove, Newark, Pasadena, Rye, and Springdale.

The Publications subseries are cover photographs from Avon employee publications, and cassette tapes used in the development of “Avon & You”. These materials date from 1976 to 1979.

The Recognition subseries consists of photographs of Avon employee recognition ceremonies that occurred between 1936 and 1994. Service anniversaries are shown in Atlanta, Kansas City, Morton Grove, New York City, Rye, and Suffern. Retirements from Kansas City, New York City, and Rye are pictured.

The Social events subseries contains photographs and albums depicting various Avon social events such as Christmas parties, family days, summer outings, and President’s banquets between 1909 and 1996. Images also include employees enjoying company-sponsored sports such as baseball, basketball, bowling, and golf. A silent film from 1942 shows an Avon summer outing to Rye Beach.

The Domestic locations series is divided into four subseries: Exteriors and interiors, Offices, Manufacturing and shipping, and Laboratories. Each are organized alphabetically by location.

The Exteriors and interiors subseries consists of photographs, albums, and slides in this subseries show the exterior and general areas of California Perfume Company and Avon facilities in the U.S. These facilities include Atlanta, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Middletown, Rye, Springdale, and Suffern. Approximately half of these photographs show Avon employees and date from 1886 to 1998. Also included are films if the Kansas City and Morton Grove locations (mid-1950s).

The Office subseries contains photographs and slides which now the offices of California Perfume Company and Avon facilities between 1886 and 1979. These facilities include Atlanta, Harrison, Kansas City, Morton Grove, New York City, Newark, Pasadena, Rye Springdale and Suffern. The majority of these photographs show Avon employees at work in the offices.

The Manufacturing and shipping subseries are photographs and slides of the manufacturing and shipping operations at the California Perfume Company and Avon facilities. Most of the materials are from Suffern. The other facilities shown include Atlanta, Kansas City, Middletown, Morton Grove, Newark, Pasadena, Rye and Springdale. The majority of these photographs show Avon employees at work and date from 1900 to 1979, with some photographs of the Suffern branch taken in 1998.

The Laboratories subseries includes photographs and sides which show laboratories at CPC and Avon facilities in the U.S. are contained in this subseries. The facilities include Morton Grove, New York City, Pasadena, Springdale, and Suffern. The majority of these photographs show Avon employees at work in the labs and date from 1929 to 1998.

The International locations series is also divided into four subseries: Exteriors and interiors, Offices, Manufacturing and shipping, and Laboratories. Each are organized alphabetically by location.

The Exteriors and interiors subseries contains photographs, slides, albums, and a film of the exterior and general areas of international Avon facilities dating from 1950 through 2000. The following countries are represented: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech, Cyprus, El Salvador, England, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the Ukraine. Also included is a slide detailing the history of Avon International, from 1953 to 1969 and slides about Avon Global from 1997.

The Office subseries are photographs and slides in this subseries show offices of international Avon facilities from 1950 to 1998. The following countries are represented: Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The majority of these photographs show Avon employees at work in the offices.

The Manufacturing and shipping subseries contains photographs and slides of manufacturing and shipping at international Avon facilities. The following counters are represented: Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The majority of these photographs show Avon employees at work and date from 1950 to 1996.

The Laboratories subseries are slides and photographs of Avon employees working in labs in Japan and Mexico.

The Public relations series is divided into four subseries: Contests, community service and special events; Media and celebrity support; Women of Enterprise; and Publicity photographs.

The Contests, community service and special events subseries contain photographs and videos in this subseries illustrate various contests held by Avon. Also included are photographs, videos, and a film illustrating Avon’s participation in community service activities, such as building a high school stadium, making donations to charities, and assisting flood victims. This subseries also contains photographs, videos, and slides showing special Avon events, including company anniversaries. These materials date from 1911 to 2006.

The Media and celebrity support subseries contains photographs, cassette tapes, and videos illustrating support of Avon by the media and various celebrity endorsements from 1949 to 2007. These celebrities include Maureen O’Sullivan, opera singer Rise Stevens, and Helen Hayes. Included here are demonstrations, interviews, and promotions.

The Women of Enterprise subseries consists of photographs, slides videos and cassette tapes from 1987 to 1996 which show Women of Enterprise award winners. This award is presented by Avon to women who overcame hardships in their lives and went on to achieve success in business. Interviews with these women are under a twenty-five year time seal. Also included are photographs of Avon’s Women of Achievement award winner from 1945 and two international versions of awards or Women of Enterprise.

The Publicity photographs consists of photographs and slides of advertisements, press releases, news events, and images taken to appear in various Avon publications. These materials are arranged alphabetically and date from 1955 to 1999. One fragrance advertisement dates from 1900.

The Sales managers and representatives series is divided into four subseries: “Direct to You”; Incentives and recruiting; Recognition; and Representatives portraits.

The “Direct to You” subseries contains cassette tapes that were an audio magazine for employees in 1990. Also included are master audio tapes used in the creation if these cassettes.

The Incentives and recruiting subseries contains photographs, a record, a film, cassette tapes film strips, and videos on the subject of recruitment. Avon offered rewards for recruitment, and gave prizes to representatives and managers with the highest sales. Included in this subseries are commercials calling for new representatives and training materials which announce prized for recruitment or sales. Materials date from 1903 to 2003.

The Recognition subseries consists of photographs, videos recordings, albums and films which show recognition for high volume sales by Avon representatives and manger. Rewards included all-expenses paid trips for members of the President’s Club (1985-1991) and the Circle of Excellence 1970-1991). Other forms of recognition included banquets, and award ceremonies. Materials date from 1955 to 1992.

The Training subseries includes films, videos, filmstrips, and recordings in this subseries were used for training of representatives and sales managers from 1952 to 1994. These recordings include introductions to the company's, new product training seminars, and lessons on skincare or makeup application. Also included are photographs of both sales training sessions and materials used in training.

The Avon representatives portraits subseries contains both snapshots and formal portraits of Avon representatives and sales manager. Included is a photograph of Mrs. Albee, the first Avon representative and depot manager. Photographs are arranged chronologically and date from 1890 to 1998.

The Selling methods and sales aids series is divided into two subseries: Commercials and Products, sales aids and sales in progress.

The Commercials subseries are Avon television commercials appear on the video tapes and films. Also included are photographs of print advertisement, and filmstrips of the creation and introduction of new ads. Materials date from 1935 to 1998, with a bulk of the materials created in the 1950s to the 1980s.

The Products, sales aids and sales in progress subseries consists of photographs, slides, films, and an album in this subseries show various California Perfume Company and Avon Products from 1886 to 1998. Also included are photographs and slides of door-to-door sales in progress.

The Company history and philosophy series consists of photographs of tax records, turn-of the-century fashions, and Anne Hathaway’s cottage (which was used in the earliest Avon logo). Numerous photographs depict Avon employees who served in World War II. Photographs and a record detail the history of perfume, and film and videos are used to document Avon’s history and philosophy. Materials are separated by format and arranged chronologically and date from circa 1858 to 1996.

The Library, music and museum series contains a cassette tape and video of music used in Avon commercials. Also included are photographs and slides of product displays from Avon museums, and art work from various Avon office. Slides and a photograph show the library and its future plans. Materials are separated by format and arranged chronologically and date from 1960 to 1987.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected item(s) online in Hagley's Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research, except "The Women of Enterprise" interviews have a 70-year time seal from the date of creation due to privacy/security reasons.

Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Film material is located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at askhagley@hagley.org

Use Restrictions

Permission of Avon Products, Inc. is required for any photographic or print reproduction of items from the collection.

Literary rights retained by Avon Products, Inc.

Related Material

Avon Products Inc., Suwanee, Georgia site photographs (Accession 2013.264), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Ruth Leverenz Avon Company scrapbook (Accession 2014.259), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

On Deposit from Avon Products, Inc.

Separated Material

Avon Products Inc. records (Accession 2155), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Avon Products Inc. photographs and audiovisual materials
Status:
Author:
Martha Boyd, 1998, revised by Lisa Kruczek and Laurie Rizzo
Date:
2015
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400