Abstract: "Own Your Share of American Business": Public Relations at the NYSE during the Cold War

Janice Traflet


The Great Crash of 1929 and accompanying Wall Street scandals shook many Americans' tenuous faith in stocks as a route to wealth and in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as a just and orderly marketplace. While severe and prolonged, this loss of popular confidence, however, proved temporary. Among the many factors stimulating the market's image recovery was an ambitious NYSE public relations campaign called "Own Your Share of American Business." Operating from 1954 to 1968, the program was designed to disassociate equity investing from its negative gambling connotation and instead, inflate it into a patriotic act that blended citizens' self-interest with the national interest. During the Cold War, "Own Your Share" promoted the idea that stock-buyers (and stock-sellers) not only enriched themselves, but also helped protect the American way of life from the perceived communist menace.

BEH On-Line Paper