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Unexpected Images: Ads

A guide to "hidden" image collections in text-based databases and other resources for finding archival images.

Ad-specific Databases

Ad*Access

Presents images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Concentrates on five main subject areas: radio, television, transportation, beauty and hygiene, and World War II, providing a view of a number of major campaigns and companies through images preserved in the J. Walter Thompson Company Competitive Advertisements Collection of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History in Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

The Vintage Ad Browser

Over 100,000 vintage printed ads from 1800 to 2000, organized by subject. Reproductions available for a fee.

Other Ad Collections

The American Package Museum an online archive of historical American packaging and print advertising from the early 20th century. Browse by product brand, some 3-D images available. Almost exclusively images with little or no cataloguing information.

The American Sign Museum operates similarly.

GenderAds contains over 2,500 current print advertising images, and is one of the largest collections of gender-related advertising materials on the Internet; browse by female and male advertisements, body parts, gender roles, and more. No search interface.

Medicine and Madison Avenue (Duke University) contains over 600 historical health-related advertisements printed in newspapers and magazines from 1910-1959; categories include cigarettes, vitamins and tonics, diet, and more.

 

Newspaper images

Digitized newspapers are a great resource for advertising images.

American Periodical Series/APS online. Over 1,100 periodicals that first began publishing between 1740 and 1900, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children’s and women’s magazines, and many other historically-significant periodicals. Useful for historical advertising.

America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1876 (formerly Early American Newspapers). Web-based archive of Americana that features images and full-text content from many historical newspapers. A great resource for searching very early, very text-heavy advertisements. Try using the "article type" search to limit your search to maps, illustrations, or cartoons.

Access Newspaper Archive, offers 3,518 local newspaper titles from all states as well as some European and Canadian newspapers. Many of these titles only have a single year digitized; others exist in long runs. Ads have been indexed, which means that you can search for ad text. Results are viewable as pdfs of full pages.

HarpWeek offers full-text access to Harper's Weekly, America's leading 19th century illustrated newspaper.  The Library has licensed access to the issues from 1857-1912.  The Library also has a CD-ROM of the Civil War era issues.

Commercials

Clipland: Short videos, including music videos, short films, television commercials, and movie trailers.

Also be sure to check YouTube for vintage tv commercials

Political Ads

The Political Ads Database (The Washington Post)
The database includes political advertisements funded by campaigns, parties, committees, and independent advocacy groups. Most of the ads are tied to specific U.S. House, U.S. Senate, or gubernatorial races throughout the country. Some of the ads are more general "issue" or advocacy ads not tied to a particular race or candidate.

Advertising Archives

The Advertising Archives is the largest and most comprehensive resource of its kind in Europe and includes 50,000 searchable online ads. You must register independently to see enlarged images. Collection highlights include:

Press Advertising:
British and American press advertisements from 1850 to the present day including iconic brands such as Coca-Cola, Heinz, Kellogg’s, Ford etc. and ads designed by artists such as Warhol, Bateman and Mucha.

TV Advertising:
British TV stills dating from the very first transmitted advert to the latest campaigns.

Magazine Covers:
Magazines and magazine cover artwork – a vast collection of Saturday Evening Post, John Bull, New Yorker, Life, Picture Post, Vogue, Country Life, Ideal Home, Glamour and many more titles including covers illustrated by artists such as Rockwell and Leyendecker.

Cinema:
Thousands of cinema posters.

Ephemera:
Postcards, posters, cigarette cards, labels, catalogues, menus, scrap books and more.

Comics and Chidren's Annuals:
Hundreds of old favourites including TV programmes, cartoon characters and superheroes.