The syndicated public affairs television program helped to create a popular ideology of modern American building and architecture
By the mid-20th century, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), an advocacy group representing the interests of manufacturers across the country, had become a powerful bureaucracy whose commercial efforts matched the force of its political interests. It made use of inventive advertising and publicity techniques based on those of radio, television, and print media. During my fellowship at the museum's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, I investigated the leading example of NAM's innovative practices: Industry on Parade, a syndicated public affairs television program produced by NAM as "a pictorial review of events in business and industry." Over 500 episodes of the program aired during the 1950s, drawing a large national audience. Each of these newsreel-style episodes featured behind-the-scenes presentations of American manufacturers and new developments in invention and research.
I worked with the Archives Center's collection of 428 motion picture reels of Industry on Parade to examine how media was used to promote a modern vision of the postwar industries of building, construction, and architecture. I began with clear research questions: How were industry leaders progressive in their use of the new medium of television to promote their political and social aims? What aspects of building industries were publicized as modern? How did the Industry on Parade series help to create a popular ideology of modern American building and architecture?