Hardman, Anson Franklin (24 Sep. 1883 – 7 Dec. 1966) was the first General Advertising Manager of the OHIO BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY (now Ameritech), where he ran the department for 27 years (1924 to 1951). Hardman initiated many advertising campaigns, a large number of which were adopted by other utilities and recognized by the advertising industry.
He is best known for his work with scriptwriter and historian, FRANK SIEDEL, and ad agency account executive, STU BUCHANAN, in helping to produce THE OHIO STORY radio series, the most successful regional radio program in the country at that time. As the Bell Telephone advertising manager, he guided the program for its first five years and researched the early stories. After Hardman retired, the series continued on the radio and later on television, running from 1947 to 1961. The series was the primary vehicle used by Ohio Bell to promote its products for 15 years.
Hardman’s writing career began in 1904 when he founded a high school magazine in Findlay, Ohio. After graduating from Findlay College, he became a reporter for the Morning Republican (later changed to The Courier) newspaper in Findlay and rose to be Managing Editor. As Managing Editor, he hired Norman Vincent Peale, the minister and author who popularized the concept of positive thinking. Peale credits Hardman for being “a fine newspaperman who gave me valuable guidance and instruction” in his autobiography.
While living in Findlay, Hardman wrote a daily newspaper column supplied to more than 100 newspapers through the Inland Syndicate, of which he was the head. He also wrote a weekly newspaper feature, Ohio Historical, and articles mostly on theatrical topics.
In 1919 he married Nellie Ornelia Renshler (17 Jan. 1890 – 7 Jun. 1931). They had two daughters, Shirley and Lois.
When Hardman turned 65 and took mandatory retirement from Ohio Bell, he began a public relations and advertising company, Anson F. Hardman and Associates. He continued to write editorials and place advertising for the periodical Inside Ohio.
Hardman lived in SHAKER and UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS. He was 80 when he died from injuries sustained from a fall. At the time of his death, he was director of public relations and advertising for Mid-Continent Telephone Corp. of Elyria. His wife, Nellie, died when she was 40. They are buried together in Maple Grove Cemetery in Findlay.
Hardman’s collection of Ohio Story scripts and script drafts, administrative papers, correspondence, story ideas and suggestions, research articles, subject lists, broadcast material, clippings, music scores, photographs, and biographical information are in the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY archives.
View finding aid at the Western Reserve Historical Society