Many a research university library offers amazing digital collections open to anybody on their website. Duke University is one of them – an example being Ad*Access, which I’m going to focus on today. Ad*Access is composed of 7000+ advertisements pertaining to five types of products – Beauty and Hygiene, Radio, Television, Transportation, and World War II propaganda.

The ads all span from 1911-1955, and can be searched by keyword or browsed via subject, product, date, publication, etc. This database is definitely very interdisciplinary in nature, and will be of interest to people researching a wide variety of fields, including marketing, communications, gender studies, and sociology.

One more thing – take note of the disclaimer listed in the “About” section of Ad*Access: “This site includes historical materials that may contain negative stereotypes or language reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record.”


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