The Realtor Pamphlet, 1931.

Trademark in the Archives, Part II: Promoting REALTOR®

In honor of the REALTOR® Trademark Centennial, we’ve looked back through the NAR Archives to share documents that tell the history of the term. The second post in this series looks at NAR’s early efforts to promote the new term to the public. In less than a year, the word REALTOR® went from an idea in one member’s mind to an official term adopted by National Association of Real Estate Boards. While members had received notice of the approval via their new REALTOR® certificates, the general public lacked awareness that a new word had even been invented, let alone what it stood for.

REALTOR® logo, 1917.

REALTOR® logo, 1917.

To this end, the REALTOR® Committee was formed in February 1917, chaired by none other than Charles Chadbourn.  Among the committee’s earliest initiatives was the creation of an official logo for the term.  The final selection was a design from the Cincinnati Real Estate Board that featured the word REALTOR® in a striking block font.  Six years later this logo was replaced by the NAREB emblem, which endured as the Association’s emblem for another 56 years.  Members were encouraged to post the emblem in their offices, wear it on pins, and use in their communications and advertisements.

NAREB Emblem, 1923.

NAREB Emblem, 1923.

Recognizing that NAREB could enlist the popular press with help in making the term widely known, the REALTOR® Committee distributed a pamphlet to newspapers and other publishers beginning in 1923.  Titled “REALTOR®: Its Meaning and Use,” it provided a definition and history in order to ensure the term was properly represented in the press.

REALTOR®: Its Meaning and Use, 1923.

REALTOR®: Its Meaning and Use, 1923.

Yet another initiative that originated with the REALTOR® Committee was establishing an advertising service for local boards.  As declared in a 1926 mailing that promoted the service, “it has been pointed out that if the National Association would prepare copy for the use of its Member Boards, and such advertisements were widely used, the effect upon the public mind would be cumulative and all the results of a nation-wide campaign would accrue.” These advertisements promoted the emblem…

Know Them by this Emblem Ad, 1926.

Know Them by this Emblem Ad, 1926.

The definition…

The Realtor and What He Means To You Pamphlet, page 2, 1931.

The Realtor and What He Means To You Pamphlet, page 2, 1931.

And the professionalism of the REALTOR®.

Sample ads, 1941.

Sample ads, 1941.

Of course, greater public awareness didn’t always translate to proper usage of the term.  The next post in this series will look at how NAREB addressed cases of REALTOR® misuse.

Hathaway Hester

Archivist and Digital Preservation Librarian

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