History Lessons: Michigan Alum Ads

We look back at the myriad of ads that have run in the alumni magazine, painting a picture of our changing tastes over almost 130 years.
Read time: 3 minutes

Since Michigan Alum magazine began in 1894, countless advertisements have graced its pages. Here are six memorable ads that offer a glimpse into life, technology, and culture throughout the history of the magazine: 

Nov 1897 Typewriter And Horse

November 1897: These two half-page ads from a November 1897 issue appeal to two audiences. On the top, local Blickensderfer sales agents tout the specs and prices of its Model 5 and Model 7 typewriters, perfect for the dorm or office. The bottom ad implores horse-faring workers to get their wagons, carriages, and similar pre-motor vehicles from Birdsell Manufacturing’s capable hands.

January 1939 Chesterfield Cigarette advertisement

January 1939: Chesterfield cigarette ads often employed beautifully painted scenes and figures, such as this full-page example riding in on the New Year holiday of 1939 to catch the reader’s attention and get them to ponder a smoke.

Nov 1955 Ad reading "America's First Turbo-Prop Airliner!"

November 1955: In 1955, American Airlines informed potential travelers of an incoming aviation breakthrough: the Lockheed L-188 Electra, the first turbo-prop engine plane produced in the U.S., promising to pair state-of-the-art technology with premium airline accommodations.


March 1962 Ad for Bell Telephone

March 1962: The Bell Telephone System, also known as “Ma Bell” at its monopolistic height, details the three integrated steps at the core of its telecommunications operations in this 1962 ad. 


Sept 1982 Ad for an alarm watch that plays "The Victors"

Sept 1982: “As dynamic and unique as the university it represents,” proclaimed the Athlon Corporation in September 1982. They may have been right, as this fight song-playing watch also featured a stopwatch, 12-month calendar, and night light.


Fall 2002 BMW Ad


Fall 2002: In 2002, BMW dealers wanted readers to indulge in the all-wheel drive luxury of the E46 line of cars. The car started at $29,495 but, 20 years later, it appears on used car lots for about $8,000. 

Gregory Lucas-Myers, ’10, is the senior assistant editor of Michigan Alum.

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