• IdentificationICU.SPCL.ASHER
  • TitleGuide to the Louis E. Asher Papers1894-1914
  • PublisherUniversity of Chicago Library
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Date1894-1914
  • Physical Description1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
  • RepositorySpecial Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.
  • AbstractAdvertising executive and businessman. Contains correspondence, advertising materials, and photographs relating primarily to Asher's activities while working at Sears, Roebuck and Company. Correspondents include Julius Rosenwald and Richard W. Sears.

© The contents of this finding aid are the copyright of the University of Chicago Library

Economics and Business

Chicago and Illinois

The collection is open for research.

When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Asher, Louis E.. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Louis Eller Asher was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1877. He moved to Chicago in 1898 where he worked successively as a reporter for the Daily News, and later for a local trade paper, soliciting advertisements. An article he wrote in late 1898 about the American Woolen Mills, a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co., brought him to the attention of Richard W. Sears who, impressed by his imagination and writing ability, hired him as an advertising writer for American Woolens. In 1901, Asher was appointed advertising manager of Sears, Roebuck and Co., in 1906 assistant general manager, and later in that same year general manager of the company. Asher, working closely with Richard Sears, was responsible for many of the great promotion schemes of the company. Resigning from Sears, Roebuck in 1909, Asher entered the mail-order business himself, founding the very successful Banner Tailoring Company, of which he was president until he retired in 1927. In 1942, Asher, with Edith Heal, wrote Send No Money, a history of Sears, Roebuck and Co. under the leadership of Richard W. Sears. Active in Chicago civic and social life, Asher was one of the founders of Poetry Magazine, a member of the Chicago Art Institute, and the Chicago Museum of Natural History. He established a fellowship in social sciences at the University of Chicago in 1944 and later one in the humanities. Asher died in Chicago in 1948.

The collection, made up of correspondence, advertising materials, and other miscellaneous documents, concern, with few exceptions, affairs of Sears, Roebuck and Co. The correspondence (approximately 200 letters) included 120 letters written by Richard W. Sears to Asher. Correspondence of Asher to Sears and to and from Asher with other officials of Sears, Roebuck and Co., are also included. The correspondence deals mainly with advertising policies. Asher stated in the forward to Send No Money that among the source materials used in preparing the book was correspondence with Richard Sears. The letters of Sears to Asher are not extensively quoted throughout the narrative. An appendix, however, was added that included excerpts, many severely edited, from 60 of the letters which are a part of the collection. Asher wrote of this correspondence: "The letters reflect the creative presence of Richard Sears in the business whether he was on the ground or abroad." The remainder of the collection generally concerns advertising matters. Included are original memoranda and copies of Richard Sears' ideas for various advertising schemes, sample letters sent to prospective customers, examples of customers' correspondence, account sheets on the cost of advertising, and photostats of advertisements placed in the catalogs or magazines. Among the miscellaneous documents are banquet programs of a Sears, Roebuck organization - Seroco, employee publications, and miscellaneous photographs. The papers, including the photostats, cover the years 1894-1914.

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

  • Names
    • Asher, Louis Eller, 1877-1948
    • Sears, Richard Warren, 1863-1914
    • Rosenwald, Julius, 1862-1932
    • Sears, Roebuck and Company
  • SubjectAdvertising