Alumna Alana Toulin, who earned an M.A. in History under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Johnston, has just been awarded the Best Article Prize from the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Congratulations Alana!
About the JGAPE Best Article Prize
For the best article published in The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era during the previous two years.
The winner of this year’s JGAPE Best Article Prize is Alana Toulin for “‘Old Methods Not Up to New Ways’: The Strategic Use of Advertising in the Fight for Pure Food After 1906,” which appeared in October 2019.
Toulin’s article convincingly challenges the traditional interpretation of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act as a victory for consumer protection and a watershed moment for progressive reform by examining how large American food manufacturers used advertising and outreach to sway public opinion and co-opt reform efforts by depicting themselves as an integral part of the pure food movement. Revising the linear narratives of federal food policy traditionally focused on politics and institutions, Toulin traces a far more nuanced and complex history of the uncertainties regarding the Pure Food and Drug Act’s implementation as well as the persistent cultural uncertainties surrounding the categories of purity and adulteration (many of which endure today). In this deeply researched article, Toulin skillfully weaves together an impressive array of primary sources including food advertisements, cookbooks, and trade journals alongside the archival records of the N. W. Ayer & Son Advertising Agency and the National Consumers’ League, as well as the papers of Harvey Wiley. The article also engages with a broad range of scholarly works on progressive political reform, corporate liberalism, dietary reform, home economics, gender and domesticity, advertising, and consumer culture. Toulin’s methodological range is also impressive: she moves easily between policy history, gender analysis of consumer culture, and close readings of food advertisements. The committee agreed that reading Toulin’s article has changed the way they will teach the Pure Food and Drug Act in their undergraduate lectures on the Progressive Era.