The following text is from the official exhibit booklet that accompanies the Nation's Business exhibits on display at the Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, DE. The exhibit at Hagley will open to the public on September 7th 2012:
One hundred years ago, on April 22, 1912, 700 representatives of American business gathered in Washington, D.C. President William Howard Taft spoke to them, requesting that businesses form a national group to advise the government on issues facing industry and business throughout the country. The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America was formed. Today, it is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
The organization grew quickly. One of its earliest projects was publishing a monthly magazine, Nation’s Business. From its first issue, published in September 1912, the magazine proved invaluable in communicating the Chamber’s messages to business and government. Printed originally in newspaper format, and then as a magazine, its circulation increased dramatically in just a few years. Illustrations played an important part in the design. Nation’s Business used images by many of the country’s most prominent photographers until publication ceased in 1999. Today, the Chamber uses all modes of communication, reaching an ever-increasing audience through the Web, television, radio, and social media.
The pictures in this booklet are samples of the images available in the Chamber of Commerce of the United States collection at Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware. Most of the pictures come from the files of Nation’s Business photographs. The magazine used the works of many well-known photographers, including Margaret Bourke-White, Lewis Hine, André Kertész, and Dorothea Lange. In addition, it used works by anonymous corporate and commercial photographers, as well as photographs from U.S. government agencies, such as the Soil Conservation Service and the Office of War Information.
Many of the prints show the crop lines indicating the portion of the image that the editor wished to reproduce in the magazine. Editors often had to alter images to suit the layout of the page or to better illustrate the content of the article. The most recent images in the collection are digital photographs, an indication of the revolution in photography that has changed not only the work of editors but also the tasks of archivists.