The marketing field established important institutions – college courses, teachable texts, professional associations, and regular conferences – during the first three decades of the twentieth century, but did not fully mature as a scholarly discipline until the first specialized journals were launched in the mid‐1930s. The aim of this paper is to better understand the marketing discipline during this crucial formative period, especially the structure, presentation, and content of marketing knowledge.
The primary sources are The American Marketing Journal and the National Marketing Review, the two predecessor journals that combined to form Journal of Marketing in 1936. They are examined for publishing data and content areas, article format and authorship, and the topics and methods constituting marketing knowledge.
The scholarship published in the first marketing journals was written by single authors who only infrequently cited other works. A wide range of topics were explored with much attention given to issues of marketing and society. Marketing writers considered their field a science and showed confidence in it despite dire environmental conditions.
The primary sources examined have been all but forgotten and deserve to be revisited. The research investigates not only the texts themselves, but the people who wrote them, their professional biographies and associational activities, and the larger academic and social environments of their time.
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