Abstract: Courting the "Little Fellow" on Wall Street: Advertising and the NYSE

Janice Traflet


Based on extensive archival research, this paper examines the role of New York Stock Exchange's advertising in the democratization of the stock market. Part One explores the NYSE's originally rigid advertising rules that once severely constricted member firms from targeting the mass market. Part Two details the gradual and important liberalization in the NYSE's advertising policies that began in the late Depression years. The evolution in Exchange advertising policies and actual advertising practices (by both member firms and the organization itself) reveals much about the shifting power relations among various factions operating within the NYSE. Exploring the history of NYSE advertising also lends insights into the changing priorities of the NYSE in the twentieth century, especially the organization's heightened willingness to court the "little fellow," as Wall Street once commonly referred to the average, middle-class American. This paper constitutes part of a larger project that contemplates the degree to which eventual heightened brokerage firm advertising helped stimulate a surge in popular interest in the stock market.