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University at Buffalo Libraries

United States History

American Advertising: A Quick Guide to Online Images

This is by no means a comprehensive guide, some resources not available on campus are extremely important and easily used, for instance the image version of the New York Times available at Buffalo State.

American Magazines Pre-1900

The American Periodical Series (APS), 1740-1900 .  Use the advanced search option.  When a search is limited to the document type ‘Ad,’ only images of advertisements are returned.

Harper’s Weekly (HarpWeek), 1857-1883  A search in Search Harper’s Weekly Indexes can be limited to advertising.

American Magazines of the 20th Century

If none of our indexes work and even if they do, try: Google Book.  One might quibble about the mode of presentation, but the contents are remarkable.  To search a particular magazine: Use the Advanced Search function at and select Magazines on the Content line.  Then for Title enter the name of your magazine.  You will see a search box that will enable you to search the issue retrieved or all the issues Google has scanned.  Click on one of the issues, and then click an issue under All Issues from the retrieved screen to see the years available.

Advertisements that Define a Nation: Image Databases

The most comprehensive database of ad images is Ad*Access  at the Duke University Libraries.  Thousands of images are searchable topically and chronologically under headings such as: Feminine hygiene, Cosmetics, Dental supplies, and Soaps.

The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 offers subject groupings which include Toiletries, Health and Patent Medicines, and Medical.  The database is also searchable by Product and Company.

Medicine and Madison Avenue: 1911-1958 offers images under topical headings for Cough and Cold, Vitamins and Tonics, and Nutrition and Diet.  Companies represented include Bauer, Plough, and Johnson and Johnson.

American Advertising Takes to the Airwaves and the Web

Google Videos, use the advanced screen  Simply enter the name of a product, company or product type.



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