It was an age of excess. Industrialized businesses were causing drastic changes throughout the nation. Manufacturing increases guaranteed increased profit margins for those who could manage the rapidly changing market system. Companies needed new ways of moving their material into new markets. The technology of the time offered a financial salvation for many, created new classes of people, and presented opportunities that previously had not existed. The products were ready for distribution; now the country needed to know of its desire for these special items. If a person understood the desires of the time, a person could seize a portion of the wealth accumulating within the nation.

Such a person was Richard Warren Sears.

Beginning during the Gilded Age, the nation experienced a rapid rise in production and wealth. A new type of culture was being created by the increased amounts of wares stockpiling in stores: the consumer culture. Around the country, people were being taught to want new products designed for simplifying life. Canned soup, packaged meats, and pre-rolled oats became household staples, offering the homemaker of the family leisure time previously unknown to her. In the cities, department stores had appeared earlier in the century, granting wishes with one stop shopping. For those in the country, the mail-order catalogue became the wish-book equivalent of the department store. Technology produced and delivered the goods, advertising convinced the public of their need for the goods, and the catalogue was prepared to market the goods beyond the city.

This wedding of the new technology, advertising, and the mail-order catalogue spread this consumer culture beyond the cities and across the country. Magazines carried the advertisements for the newest products. Mail-order catalogues offered these new products. And farmers bought the new products to become a part of the modern world. Without one portion of this grand party, Richard Warren Sears' first little book would have failed.











This site was created by Ronda Grogan as a hypertext extension to Alan Trachtenburg's
The Incorporation of America. In his work, Trachtenburg explores the the various effects of the move away from small businesses at the turn of the century. This site extends his ideas beyond those presented within the work, and presents the success story of Richard Warren Sears as one representative example during the mass incorporation of business and culture.

Throughout this site, there are interior links to help explain the highlighted word more fully. Each of these links just further expand the topic being discussed at that time. The site can be viewed without reading these links, but it is recommended to read the links as you read the text. Each of the links will return you exactly to the place you left.

June 12, 1999


AS@UVA