• Images of US territories became popular trinkets for collectors. This map of the Philippines was included with every purchase of Vermont Fancy Butterine syrup. Courtesy of David Rumsey.

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    Philippine Islands. The Fort Dearborn Pub. Co. 415 Dearborn St. Chicago. Ill. (inset) Manila Province And Vicinity Showing Seat of War. (inset) Lower part of Mindanao
    • Date
    • 1898
    • Creator
    • Cram, George Franklin. Fort Dearborn Publishing Co.
    • Description
    • This map was used as an advertising promotion for Vermont Fancy Butterine syrup, with the covers containing ads for the product . The same map appears in the National Standard Atlas of the World by Cram and Fort Dearborn (see our 1900 copy). Folded i... more
      This map was used as an advertising promotion for Vermont Fancy Butterine syrup, with the covers containing ads for the product . The same map appears in the National Standard Atlas of the World by Cram and Fort Dearborn (see our 1900 copy). Folded into paper covers 14x8.5 with "Pocket Map Of Philippine Islands Compliments Of The Vermont Mfg. Co. Vermont Fancy Butterine..." printed in black. Printed color. Prime meridian is Greenwich. Relief shown by hachures. See note field above. None found. less
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
    • Partner
    • David Rumsey

  • Sugar bowls decorated with icons inspired by the US colonies were popular among wealthy Americans. In this illustration, the designer embellished the bowl with gold scrolls, floral motifs, and Hawaii’s trademark pineapple. Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum via Smithsonian Institution.

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    Design for sugar bowl with gold scrolls and pineapple
    • Date
    • 1880–1910
    • Description
    • Research in Progress. Close-up, cropped design for a sugar bowl with a black and gold rim; at center an area made up of gold scrolls and floral motifs with garlands; pineapple at center.
    • Partner
    • Smithsonian Institution
    • Contributing Institution
    • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

  • Musicians also found inspiration overseas. Composer Ford Dabney penned this song, "Porto Rico rag intermezzo," in 1910. The woman on the cover, however, reflected stereotypical characterizations of Puerto Rican sexuality and femininity. Courtesy of Temple University via PA Digital.  

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    Porto Rico : rag intermezzo
    • Creator
    • Dabney, Ford T., 1883-1958 [composer].
    • Description
    • For piano.;Caption title.;Center seam separating edges worn and torn. This stereotypical image is part of a collection of historical examples provided for teaching use. The collection provides examples of stereotyping based on race, religion, gender,... more
      For piano.;Caption title.;Center seam separating edges worn and torn. This stereotypical image is part of a collection of historical examples provided for teaching use. The collection provides examples of stereotyping based on race, religion, gender, and other characteristics that have shaped and continue to shape American society. less
    • Rights
    • This material is subject to copyright law and is made available for private study, scholarship, and research purposes only. For access to the original or permission to publish, please contact Temple University Libraries, the Charles L. Blockson Afro-... more
      This material is subject to copyright law and is made available for private study, scholarship, and research purposes only. For access to the original or permission to publish, please contact Temple University Libraries, the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection (blockson@temple.edu, 215-204-6632). less
    • Partner
    • PA Digital
    • Contributing Institution
    • Temple University

  • In Puerto Rico, there was no shortage of Americans looking to celebrate the Fourth of July abroad. This document recalls Independence Day celebrations in the city of Fajardo. Festivities included fireworks, parades, races, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence in Spanish. Courtesy of Library of Congress via HathiTrust.

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    In Porto Rico; a part of greater America
    • Date
    • 1900
    • Rights
    • Public domain. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
    • Contributing Institution
    • Library of Congress.

As the nation expanded, its international profile rose and American women strove for a more cosmopolitan aesthetic. A decorating manual from 1913 associated women with the homes they kept. It claimed: "We are sure to judge a woman...by her surroundings. We judge her temperament, her habits, her inclinations, by the interior of her home." Elite women staged the world in their homes. Wallpapers depicted scenes from the Philippines so that families could peer into the Pacific from the comfort of their drawing room. The pineapple became a symbol for wealth and charm; only the most gracious (and incidentally, wealthiest) hosts welcomed guests with Hawaii's trademark fruit. Meanwhile, Americans overseas held tight to traditional fashion and design from home. In the Philippines, for example, westernized spaces provided familiar comforts in new lands, as well as a model of civility for native peoples.

US obsession with imperial imagery was controversial. The trend was based almost entirely on orientalist stereotypes—how the West chose to imagine the East. The thought of women as imperial homemakers also perpetuated the thought that a women's only place was in the home. For all its imagination, American popular culture ultimately kept the reality of empire, its lands, peoples, and politics, at bay.