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Estelle Ellis Rubenstein papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: CSC-0092

Scope and Contents

The Estelle Ellis Rubenstein papers consists of samples of advertising and promotion design that Ellis has collected over the years. She saw a quality in each piece that portrayed some aspect of good marketing. Ellis has included two categories of items that she has titled herself. The rest of the items in her collection have been organized alphabetically by client. The two categories she has specified are in Box 3, Folder 4: Design Innovative Retail Store Publications and Box 3, Folder 5: Media Promotion Brochures.

The posters consist of foil printing ads for Anaconda Aluminum Co. and ads for British Airways and John Wanamaker department stores.

Series I. Personal Ephemera contains papers belonging to Estelle Ellis, including personal designs and newspaper clippings. Series II. Conservation contains correspondence and work relating to Ellis' conservation efforts related to the Getty Conservation Institute. Series III. Cipe Pineles contains correspondence and materials pertaining to the relationship between Ellis and her longtime colleague, Cipe Pineles. This series contains interviews, materials from an RIT symposium, and materials for the Cipe Pineles chapbook published by the RIT Press.


The complete Estelle Ellis archive is located at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. (


  • Creation: 1950-2003


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Estelle Ellis (1920-2012) a creative marketing pioneer, helped launched Seventeen along with Helen Valentine, as editor and Cipe Pineles, as art director. Ms. Ellis has advised numerous magazines, corporations, universities and other institutions on how to position themselves demographically and economically as well as reach their primary audiences. She has worked for Seventeen, Charm, House and Garden, and a number of other Condé Nast publications and with such companies as Kimberly Clark. The principal Estelle Ellis Collection (1944-1994) is at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History.

-- Born in New York City, Estelle Ellis received her Bachelors degree in Political Science and Journalism from Hunter College in 1940. In 1944, she began her career as a Promotion Editor with Seventeen Magazine. Estelle Ellis was hired because she was a ‘young voice;’ in fact, at twenty-eight, she was the youngest person on the staff at the time. She and her co-workers, editor Helen Valentine and art director Cipe Pineles, formed a powerful troika. These three women grew very close and influenced each other’s lives and work. Estelle’s main responsibility at Seventeen was to research and understand the demographic of teenage females. She ‘beat her tambourine’ for the marketing of new products for this demographic, and a better understanding that would lead to providing a better magazine. During her time there, she came to understand that the product itself serves as the best promotion. This showed through in the magazine’s way of recognizing its young demographic as intelligent beings with their own wants and needs.

Estelle’s boisterous personality and her genuine passion for her work made it hard for people not to hear her. She had a knack for articulating this passion verbally, turning the heads of marketers, retailers, and manufacturers, eventually convincing them to begin catering to teenage women.

She is responsible for leading women’s magazines into a new territory and opening up new possibilities for these magazines. She did the same service for Charm magazine, which targeted working women.

After 13 years of working for Seventeen, Glamour, and Charm, Ellis broke away from the magazines and her troika with the intention of taking a break, hoping for intuition to lead her in the right direction in making a new career move. Three months later, she found herself taking clients and winning accounts for them, which blossomed into her own business: Business Images, Inc.

“Estelle Ellis considered herself a kind of missionary, convincing the nonbelievers that this new market existed and was sizable.” (Scotford) Seventeen’s commercial success was mostly due to Estelle Ellis’s trumpeting. From a woman’s standpoint, Estelle never felt oppressed by male co-workers during her career. At that point, she said, she and her female colleagues were just happy to have a job. -Hannah Barber, 6/28/17


14 Linear Feet (19 boxes, one of which oversized. 1 map-case in the Cary reading room)




A collection of materials from graphic designer Estelle Ellis (1920-2012), includes client projects, correspondence, various publications, personal papers, conservation resources and documentation, article clippings, and audio-visual material.

Physical Location

Graphic Design Archives, Cary Collection Annex

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, a partial inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

Estelle Ellis inventory

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Estelle Ellis Rubinstein in 2005 and 2012. Accession number(s): 2005:002

Related Materials

Marketing to teens and women in magazines [videorecording]: an interview with Estelle Ellis Rubinstein, circa 1990. PN4835.5 .M37 1990z


Scotford, Martha. Cipe Pineles: A Life of Design. W.W. Norton & Company, New York/London: 1999.

Marketing to Teens and Women in Magazines: An Interview with Estelle Ellis Rubenstein. Rochester Institute of Technology Archives, 2001.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Tara Markert, January 2005.

Finding aid encoded by Lisa Witt, October 2015.

Processing of additional acquisitions by Emily Sharp and Hannah Barber, June 2017.

Finding Aid updated by Lauren Alberque, July 2017.

Estelle Ellis Rubenstein papers
Cary Graphic Design Archives
Lisa Witt
07 October 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408