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Understanding Historical American Ads (20th Century): Home
This LibGuide will help you find ads printed in the United States, navigate through Advertisement databases, and, finally, analyze the ads that you found.
This LibGuide will help you find databases and free resources to identify advertisements throughout the 20th century. On this page, tips on analyzing the ads and narrowing down search terms.
You will find links to databases and free resources accompanied by a small blurb about the resource on this page. When deciding what resource to start with, it is helpful to have narrowed down who you will be studying. In other words, you need to select a group of people that the advertisements are targeting: women, men, LGBTQ+, Black Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, etc. If you are not looking to view targeted ads, maybe you want to examine a specific magazine and view how the advertisements have changed over the years. This would be a great time to narrow down what magazine(s) you would want to examine.
If you are worried that your search results are pulling from non-African American newspapers, make sure to select 'African American Newspapers' and 'African American Newspapers, Series 2' from the 'Search # of 12 databases'
This database provides access to a wide variety of newspapers from all 50 states. Typically, the entire page of the newspaper was digitized, which allows you to see where the ads were placed compared to the articles.
This database gives you access to the following magazines in the full-page format: Better Homes and Gardens, Cosmopolitan, Essence, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home, Parents, Redbook, Seventeen, Town & Country, WIN (Women's International Network) News, and Women's day. Typically, the entire page of the newspaper was digitized, which allows you to see where the ads were placed compared to the articles.
This digital collection from Duke University Libraries consists of over 7,000 ads printed in the US and Canadian newspapers from 1911 and 1955. Duke University Librarians have also compiled a helpful guide on Ad*Access: https://guides.library.duke.edu/adaccess
Another free resource is provided by the Duke University Libraries. Although this resource spans before the 20th century, it still provides access to the first 20 years. The Duke University Libraries Guide: https://guides.library.duke.edu/eaa
Magazines include Life, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, Time, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, Newsweek, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Sports Illustrated, Look, Liberty, Woman's Home Companion, Photoplay, The Home Magazine, Coronet, and Popular Science.
New For Fisherman Ad from 11/14/1955 issue of LIFE
7Up Ad from 05/02/1959 issue of Saturday Evening Post