This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Advertising in the days of our ancestors

Advertising has always been a battleground. And although we look back at old ads with fondness as *quaint*, they were about as welcome to our ancestors as pop-up ads on the internet.

Old movies rarely show this, but by the turn of the century, major cities were absolutely infested with advertising, then called *bills*. Wherever there was a surface, advertisers would plaster their message. Walls, street signs, you name it. The solution was to pass laws against it. If you have ever wondered what *post no bills* meant, that's it. After those laws passed, to the great annoyance of the advertising industry, who of course claimed it was their right of free speech, advertising bills could only be placed on boards that were dedicated for the purpose. Yes, that's where *billboard* comes from. Many cities still struggle with *guerrilla marketing* where advertisements are put up as fast as they can be pulled down.

Of course, you could put advertising on private property, and for a long time that is what advertisers did. Look at old photos of buildings, farms, whatever. They promoted cigars, liver pills, etc. in huge letters. And while it seems old-fashioned and quaint to us now, it must have been pretty vulgar to look at when it was new. No wonder communities passed laws against it!

Eventually even billboards came under attack by law. Certain highways were dedicated to *beautification* in the 1960s by removing the billboards and making them illegal.

So, the battle continues. Even though browsers have had *block pop-ups* for years, advertisers are finding a way around it. Many times reading an article is more like playing a video game as you have to click to close floating windows trying to sell you something. Sigh - but at least it's nothing new!


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