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Ad*Access Research Guide: Getting Started

A portal into the Ad*Access digital collection that includes links to advertising categories and subcategories and historical context.

Ad*Access Research Guide Introduction

The Ad*Access digital collection consists of over 7,000 print advertisements ranging in date from 1911-  1955.  The  advertisements are from the Competitive Advertisements Collection in of the John W. Hartman  Center for Sales,  Advertising, and Marketing History in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript  Library.  

Taken from Canadian and U.S. periodicals and newspapers, the advertisements in Ad*Access are grouped into five subject categories:

Help in Browsing Ad*Access

Browsing the Ad*Access database allows you to search within each of the five main categories, one at a time. Each category is further broken down by a number of subcategories and dates. For example, Railroads:1950 is a subcategory within the broad category of Transportation; the time period 1939-1947 is a subcategory of Television.

To look for advertisements within any one of the five main categories, select "Browse" beside the category name. You will see a list of all the subcategories. You may choose any one of the displayed subcategories or you may use the "Search this Collection" search box in the upper left to enter keywords (e.g. Burma Shave, RCA, Elizabeth Taylor); or specific years (e.g. 1945).

The Radio and Television categories also have additional subcategory options. These subcategories lead you to specialized topics related to the radio and television electronics industry.

Selecting "History" beside each main category will link to a brief historical overview of that topic. For additional background information on the subject categories, companies, or products, see the bibliographic references found at the end of most of the background texts or use library resources at your school or in your community.

If you wish to search by keywords, names, dates, etc. across all five main categories at once, use the "Search this Collection" search box in the upper left.

Search Tips

The search field allows you to search for words possibly found in an advertisement's headline, or in the names of a company, product, publication, etc. which would be included in the description of the advertisement in this database.  Once you have entered the word(s) you would like to search for, you are able to search across the entire collection for that term(s) or further limit your searching by choosing a facet from the menu on the lower left hand side. Any search will yield a list of available items, organized by company, product, subject, and year which will allow you to narrow your results.

Pre-Set Searches

Pre-set searches that will help you to find ads containing specific types of illustration (including minorities, children, sports, etc.) or specialized advertising devices, such as coupons, that may be of particular interest.


Ethnic Groups:

Special Groups:

Advertising Devices:

Subject Guide

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Josh Larkin Rowley
Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library