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Marketing education and acculturation in the early twentieth century: Evidence from Polish language texts on selling and salesmanship

Terrence H. Witkowski (Department of Marketing, California State University – Long Beach, Long Beach, California, USA)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 27 January 2012



This article seeks to bring two hitherto neglected Polish language texts on selling and salesmanship to the attention of marketing historians. In contrast to Bartels' seminal work, this research aims to show that early marketing writing was not just in the English language and that early marketing thought was disseminated via instruction outside institutions of higher education. The research also intends to explore how marketing education served to acculturate one group of immigrants to American business norms.


The primary sources are Sprzedawca czyli: Sztuka Prowadzenia Handlu Podług Systemów Amerykańskich (Salesman: The Art of Commerce According to American Norms) by Józef Mierzyński and Sprzedawnictwo Sklepowe (Store Salesmanship), third edition, by Bolesław Z. Urbanski. Both were published in Chicago. Their tables of contents were translated and compared to selected English language texts on selling and salesmanship written about the same time. Additional information on the authors, publishers, and potential audience was also gathered to give context to these texts.


These Polish language books contained much of the same information as the English language literature on sales from the period, but with more information on personal comportment and more illustrative material. These books provide evidence of sophisticated business thinking among some Polish immigrants. Commercial correspondence courses and self‐instruction brought early marketing thought to this market and thus helped Poles enter the American economic mainstream.


The article shows that these are the first books on selling and salesmanship – or on any other marketing topic – known to be written in the USA prior to 1920 in a language other than English. They are worthy of close scrutiny because they reveal a new dimension to the early creation and dissemination of marketing thought.



Witkowski, T.H. (2012), "Marketing education and acculturation in the early twentieth century: Evidence from Polish language texts on selling and salesmanship", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 97-128.



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