Written By: Adina Vega
Edited By: Michelle Sosa and Marlinda Gallardo
Vintage Ladies Home Journal ad
We are surrounded by advertisements competing for our attention and, ultimately, our money. But what is the history of the advertisements that consume our everyday lives? The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Marketing and Advertising History is a great place to start. Housed in the Duke University Libraries system, the archives include over 44,000 print and multimedia resources that help us understand the social, cultural, and historical impacts of advertising, marketing, and sales from the 1910s to the 1980s.
The library has many pockets, but one of the most fascinating can be found in the Ad*Access collection, which includes over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. It focuses on five main concentrations: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II. In the AdViews collection, you can find television commercials created or obtained by the D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles advertising agency from the 1950s through the 1980s. The commercials feature popular brands and conglomerates like General Foods, Proctor & Gamble, Pillsbury, Anheuser-Busch, Pan-American World Airways, Mattel, and Nestlé.
Vintage floral perfume ad
In the J. Walter Thompson Co. Ford Motor Company Advertisements collection, you can view the ads for their popular automobile launches, including the redesigned 1941 Ford, Thunderbird, Mustang, Taurus, Explorer, Ranger, and Escort. The collection also includes many well-known campaigns such as “There’s a Ford in Your Future,” the Peanuts campaign for Falcon, “Built for Tough,” and “Have you Driven a Ford Lately?”
An original Ford Focus magazine ad
The best part of this massive collection is its accessibility. You can view most of the digitized collections through the website. For the complete collections and guides page, click this link. We encourage you to peek at some of history’s most influential advertising campaigns and learn more about the importance of purchasing power.