August 26, 2013

More than 7,000 vintage ads at your fingertips

It's scarcely a secret that - like many of you as well - I wildly adore vintage ads and images. Be they for use here in blog posts or my own personal inspiration, rarely does a day go by when I don't spend time peering at yesteryear ads (and, fairly often, pinning them in the process).

I love the artistry, the workmanship, the creativity, (at times) the quirkiness, the immense variety, and the sense of how life was perceived (if only from a marketing standpoint) of early and mid-twentieth century advertisements. Many were illustrated by some of the foremost artists of their day, whereas others continue beautiful photography, and some are little more than text, but those words usually speak volumes both for the product in the ad itself, and for how the company behind it viewed their audience.

In today's world we're constantly bombarded with a seemingly unending array of ads across all manner of media channels, but back in the 1930s or 40s, for example, less of these channels existed (TV was in its infancy and the internet as we know it today was still decades away) and so marketers often relied on print ads as their most powerful and important way of reaching a broad demographic. I think that this point is part of the reason why so many vintage ads were so effective, and why they continue to appeal to many people to this very day.

In the hunt for vintage Christmas images to use here last December, I ran across something that I don't encounter all that often any more (having years of online ad hunting experience under my belt, that is): a new (to me) source of vintage ads.

This isn't just a wee little roundup, or even a modest sized one, we're talking about a full on Aladdin’s cave of old school advertisements, care of the fine folks at Duke University. Their Ad*Access website is an amazing digital collection of more than 7,000 vintage ads that are free to be viewed by anyone, and most of which are available for personal use (they have a copyright information page, if you need more specifics regarding terms of use).

At present, the ads in this hefty online collection span the years from 1915 to 1955, and are primarily centered around five categories: radio, television, transportation, beauty and hygiene, and World War II. According to the collection's about page, the "advertisements are from the J. Walter Thompson Company Competitive Advertisements Collection of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke University's David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library".

For the first couple of days after I discovered this site, I spent as much of my free time as possible, pouring though the bevy of fascinating, entertaining, and sometimes just plain old practical, ads it houses, yet only began to scratch the surface of viewing all 7,000+ that appear there.

Over time I plan to check them all out, especially since I'll then have a solid knowledge of exactly what the collection contains, and thus can (hopefully) call to mind an ad I saw there that would be perfect for a future post while I'm putting it together.

Beyond the blogging side of things though, it's just plain fun to pursue so very many terrific 1910s-1950s ads (like the elegantly beautiful Elizabeth Arden advert from 1936 pictured below) in one handy-dandy spot.





I hope that you find Duke University's Ad*Access digital library as fascinating, helpful, and enjoyable as I did - and that you unearth an ad or two (or five hundred!) that you can use for your own vintage image related purposes, too.

Happy advertisement viewing, my dears!

34 comments:

  1. What a fantastic source! Thank you so much for sharing it!

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  2. What a fantastic find. I know know how I'll be procrastinating/researching for the rest of today. :)

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  3. Ooooo!!! What a wonderful resource!! I love reading vintage ads! :D Thank you so much for sharing this awesome find with us!!

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  4. What a great resource. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. You, my dear, have just "ruined" my whole day. ;-)
    I'm totally telling my husband that it is all your fault I didn't get a thing done as I just "had" to browse this ad site for hours.
    -Jamie
    ChatterBlossom

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  6. Thank you dearest, for sharing this! It is fabulous :D
    Did you gals see the ad saying; "-would your husband marry you again?"
    Talk about a wakeup-call, sitting here with my pyjama-pants and messy hair!
    *lol*

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  7. I LOVE Duke's online library! I search it often while doing blog research. It is a treasure trove of vintage imagery and history!
    ~xoxo, CoriLynn

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  8. Thanks for sharing this resource! I love vintage make-up ads I will for sure be spending time looking through this site:)

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  9. Same as the others, I love to look at vintage ads, so thank you very much for telling us about this website! :D

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  10. This is awesome, thanks so much, definitely can use this in my research of vintage products.

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  11. Oooh Thank you! This is awesome! :)
    -Emily

    Emily's Vintage Visions
    vintagevisions27.blogspot.com

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  12. Wow, what an amazing find. The vintage ads are how I found you originally on Pinterest! I adore old advertising.

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  13. Oooooo thank you so much for sharing this!!!!!!! I'm on my way to take a look right now.

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  14. Thank you for sharing your finds Jessica.
    My mayor is in Marketing and Advertising so you can imagine how interesting i find this - i own a few 1960s magazines and my true enjoyment in them is looking at the ads...

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  15. Hope you are feeling better! I am the same way, my chronic health issues make me easily vulnerable to germs. Keep up the fluids and rest.

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    1. Thank you very much, honey. I like to say, not entirely joking, that my immune system has about as much strength as a wet Kleenex. I said (again, jokingly) to Tony the other night that I wish I could put myself in a protective bubble until we get to Calgary next month so that there would be no risk of picking up any nasty viruses between then or now which could call for our plans to be cancelled.

      ♥ Jessica

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  16. Oh what a great find! I am just like you that I just love a good vintage ad. Thanks for sharing this link with us!

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  17. Wow! How can I ever pull myself away? Thanks for sharing such an amazing resource!

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  18. What an amazing resource; a great find! Thank you for sharing. That is all my free time taken up for a bit!

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  19. Thanks so much for sharing this vintage fashion resource Jessica. I suspect I'm going to lose hours because of it… ;)
    xo

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  20. I share your love of vintage ads! The women were always so chic too. Thank you for sharing this! Totally bookmarking this resource.

    Jules of Canines & Couture
    www.caninesandcouture.com

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  21. Gosh what an awesome source, can't wait to pour over it when I get home tonight, thanks Jess!xx

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  22. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this!

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  23. Oh thank you for sharing this! I am bursting to have a look now!!

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  24. Jessica,
    What a fascinating find!
    I stumbled upon it a while ago, and I can honestly admit there's something for everyone. It's filled with joy.

    Marija

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  25. Thanks for sharing this! Ads from this period are much more appealing to look at than the ads of today. I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time on that website. I hope you are doing well, dear gal! Have a fabulous day!

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  26. Thanks a million! What a great collection. :-)

    http://stylemebetty.com

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  27. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Thanks so much for sharing this lovely lady!

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  28. I will definitely be visiting this website when I have more time! Thanks for sharing!

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  29. Oooh! Thank you for sharing this fabulous resource!

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  30. Oh wow! Thank you so much. :) I'm very fond of vintage ads too,which you might recall from my magazine scans. I get so inspired by them, so now I know what to look at at my breaks. Thanks again. :)

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