At a Glance


Follow the rise of professional advertising with these advertising items and publications from 1850 to 1920.

John W. Hartman Center and Duke University Digital Scriptorium

Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920

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These 9,000 advertising items and publications date from 1850 to 1920. Selected items illustrate the rise of consumer culture in America and the development of a professionalized advertising industry.

Images are grouped into 11 categories: advertising ephemera (trade cards, calendars, almanacs, postcards); broadsides for placement on walls, fences, and buildings; advertising cookbooks from food companies and appliance manufacturers; early advertising agency publications created to promote the concepts and methods of the industry; promotional literature from the nation's oldest advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson; early Kodak print advertisements; Lever Brothers Lux (soap) advertisements; R.C. Maxwell advertising company images; outdoor advertising; scrapbooks; and tobacco ads.

Each category contains a brief overview, and each image is accompanied by production information. The site, searchable by keyword or ad content, includes a timeline on the history of advertising from the 1850s to 1920. This easy-to-use collection is ideal for researching consumer culture and marketing strategies.