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Selected Internet Resources

Trade Literature Resources

  • Columbia University. Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
    The American collection is one of the most extensive in existence. It begins with the first pertinent book to be published in the colonies, Abraham Swan's British Architect (Philadelphia, 1775), and includes a large number of titles listed in H.R. Hitchcock's basic bibliography, American Architectural Books. In the seventies and eighties the scope of the American collection was expanded to include printed source materials not previously collected. These include early trade catalogs from the manufacturers of building products (1840-1950).
  • Hagley Museum and Library
    The library houses an important collection of books, pamphlets, trade catalogs, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, and audiovisual materials documenting the history of American business and technology. Hagley's main strength is in the Middle Atlantic region, but the scope of collecting includes business organizations and companies with national and international impact.
  • John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History
    The Ad*Access Project, funded by the Duke Endowment.
  • Marketing in the Modern Era
    Marketing in the Modern Era: Trade Catalogs and the Rise of 19th-Century American Advertising: an on-line exhibit at the Baker Library at Harvard University.
  • Milacron
    Milacron (formerly Cincinnati Milacron) A Brief History of a 118-Year-Old Company, which was chiefly a manufacturer of machine tools prior to World War II.
  • New Jersey Trade and Manufacturers' Catalogs
    Housed in Special Collections and University Archives, the Rutgers University Libraries collection of New Jersey trade and manufacturers catalogs represents part of the University's effort "to collect, preserve and make available for research, primary and secondary materials in various formats, documenting all aspects of New Jersey's history, from its founding to the present."
  • Taking the Wheel: Manufacturers’ Catalogs from the First Decade of American Automobiles
    This New York Public Library digital presentation offers a sampling from the year 1909 of the Science, Industry and Business Library's (SIBL) collection of manufacturers' catalogs and price lists. Several hundred photomechanical reproductions from the pages of motor vehicle (automobiles and some trucks) manufacturers' catalogs from 1909, in the first decade of the automobile industry.
  • The Virtual Laboratory (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)
    The digital library of the Virtual Library contains scans of historical books, journals, laboratory notebooks and instrument catalogues. Furthermore, it provides bibliographical information based on tables of contents (overview) and on existing personal bibliographies which have been checked for consistency. Every item can be acessed by author, title, year or word contained in the title.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Special Collections. Romaine Trade Catalog Collection
    Lawrence B. Romaine (1900-1967) was an antiquarian book dealer, who bought and sold rare books, manuscripts, trade catalogs, and other Americana. Romaine was recognized as the leading expert in the U.S. on trade catalogs, and was the author of A Guide to American Trade Catalogs, 1774-1900 (New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1960), the standard reference work in this field.  Romaine spent approximately 30 years collecting over 41,000 trade catalogs from the 19th and early 20th centuries, on every imaginable product from agricultural implements, clothes, medical and surgical instruments to weathervanes and windmills. The bulk of his collection focused on machines, tools, engines and other hardware used in agriculture and manufacturing industries.
  • University of Delaware Trade Catalogs: An online exhibition
    The University of Delaware Library Special Collections Department houses an extensive collection of trade catalogs and advertising ephemera produced in the United States from the middle of the eighteenth century until the present day. The trade catalog collection also complements the Special Collections Department's traditional strengths in the history of horticulture, science and technology, printing and publishing, and the book arts. Companies selling printing supplies, agricultural implements and nursery stock, type founders, publishing companies, and booksellers are particularly well-represented as are the catalogs of Delaware businesses.
  • Winterthur Museum Library
    WinterCat is Winterthur Library's online catalogue and includes nearly 60,000 bibliographic records, representing the holdings of the four collections that constitute the Winterthur Library. Records for imprints, periodicals, rare printed materials, manuscript and ephemera holdings, photographs, and archival resources are all in one database, which researchers can use to determine the library's holdings on any given topic, person, or organization through one search. WinterCat features hyperlinks to manuscript finding aids and selected images.
  • Astronomical Observatory of Palermo
    The library of the Astronomical Observatory of Palermo has a very rich collection of trade catalogues of instrument makers.
  • Canada Science and Technology Museum
    The Canada Science and Technology Museum trade literature collection consists of manufacturers' catalogues, price lists, promotional pamphlets, repair manuals and operating guides covering a wide range of subjects relating to science and technology, and their relationship to the transformation of Canadian society from the nineteenth century to the present. This growing collection includes over 75 000 items.
  • Canadian Centre for  Architecture  CCA Library: Special Collections Trade Catalogues
    Approximately 5,600 trade catalogues documenting building technology and construction methods from the late eighteenth century to the present. Core of the collection formed through acquisition of the relevant portions of the Franklin Institute trade catalogue collection. Coverage is broad and includes such categories as concrete and lumber, metalwork and woodwork, flooring, heating and insulation, plumbing and electricity, windows and roofing.
  • Corning Museum of Glass. Rakow Research Library
    The Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass has a wide-ranging collection including books, magazines, trade and auction catalogues, personal and corporate archives, videotapes, microforms, sound recordings, drawings, prints, photographs, and slides. Its mission is to acquire and preserve all informational resources on the art, history and early science and technology of glass, in all languages and all formats.
  • D'Arcy Collection
    The D'Arcy Collection of the Communications Library of the University of Illinois is a collection of almost two million original advertisements published between 1890 and 1970. The collection, which was donated by the D'Arcy, MacManus & Masius advertising agency (now D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles) in 1983, is a rich source of research information on products advertised by many agencies. While the vast majority of these advertisements appeared in newspapers, magazines and trade journals, there are a few in other forms such as brochures, signs, and programs. Most of the clippings advertise standard consumer products, but there are a number of obsolete categories such as spats, bathing shoes, and Prohibition.
  • Michigan Trade Catalogs in the Michigan Historical Collections of the Bentley Library, University of Michigan
    These include Michigan-based automobile and truck companies and commercial catalogs from other industries.
  • Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
    General Medical Products Information: Collection of product information, primarily advertisements and trade literature, on medical equipment, prosthetics, and pharmaceuticals. Arranged by manufacturer.
  • Printed Collections & Trade Catalogs from the Indiana Historical Society
    This collection concentrates on catalogs from businesses that were either headquartered in Indiana or had a substantial presence in the state. Items in this collection date from the 1840s through the 1990s. The catalogs document the wide range of commodities that have come out of Indiana.
  • Sears Modern Homes
    This site features a history of the Sears Modern Homes program, photos, catalog advertisements, references and a registry of owners. More than 100,000 Sears ready-made houses were sold from 1908 to 1940.
  • Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Collections
    A collection of international manufacturer, wholesale and retail catalogs from the eighteenth century to the present. We are aspiring to digitize a broad range of trade catalogs in our collection with an emphasis on the decorative arts, especially Art Nouveau and Art Deco design. The types of catalogs range from fashion, silks, textiles and wallpaper to furniture, industrial design, jewelry and ceramics. Other subjects include ornamental motifs, wrought iron, elevators, clocks, tableware, tiles, stoves, fireplaces, lighting, artist materials, picture frames, woodwork, paneling, typography and automobiles.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum. National Art Library
    Trade catalogues in the National Art Library: The National Art Library holds numerous examples of trade catalogues within its collections. Some items entered the NAL during the 19th century, and both current and retrospective examples of trade catalogues have been added to the collections throughout the 20th century. Since 1983 the policy has been to actively collect both current and retrospective examples of trade literature in areas broadly in line with the research interests of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Women Working, 1800-1930: trade catalogs
    To illustrate the world of women working, the Open Collections Program of Harvard University Library has digitized a group of trade catalogs. These colorful works illustrate the dramatic changes that were taking place between 1870 and 1930 in the home, in the workplace, and in the minds of retailers and manufacturers. The catalogs serve many purposes within the scope of Women Working; they demonstrate that women who had their own income were beginning to be thought of as consumers; they provide a richly illustrated picture of the environments in which women lived, worked, and shopped; and they illustrate the prices of goods in the marketplace. The Women Working collection provides data on the wages and working conditions of women in the boot and shoe industry, examples of the boots and shoes they were making, and the prices these goods brought in shops and catalogs.

Other Resources

  • Sewing Machine Galleries
    Created by David and Lin Best, this site comprises photographs of over 130 sewing machines from their collection, together with information about the manufacturers that produced them.

Smithsonian Resources

Smithsonian Resources

Smithsonian Resources

  • National Museum of American History, Archives Center. Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
    The National Museum of American History purchased the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, ca. 1724-1977 in 1967. The collection was assembled by Isadore Warshaw and represents the largest advertising ephemera collection in the United States, occupying more than 1,020 cubic feet of storage space.  Organization, re-housing, and description of the Warshaw Collection are a long-term project. Most portions of the collection are open to researchers in the Archives Center.
  • Seed Catalogs
    The Smithsonian Institution Libraries have a unique trade catalog collection that includes about 10,000 seed and nursery catalogs dating from 1830 to the present. Many of the trade catalogs were part of the Burpee Collection donated to the Horticulture Services Division by Mrs. David Burpee in 1982. The collection includes both Burpee and their competitors' catalogs.  The real gems of the collection date from 1830 to the 1930s and are both beautiful and important multidisciplinary historical documents. The seed trade catalogs document the history of the seed and agricultural implement business in the United States, as well as provide a history of botany and plant research such as the introduction of plant varieties into the US Additionally, the seed trade catalogs are a window into the history of graphic arts in advertising, and a social history, through the text and illustrations, showing changing fashions in flowers and vegetables.
  • Sewing Machines: Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Institution Collections
    This guide illustrates the range of materials published by and about sewing machine companies in the United States, starting in the 1840s. Sewing machine catalogs and other industry materials are just one portion of the remarkable collections of manufacturers' trade literature held in the libraries, archives and curatorial units of the Smithsonian Institution. The trade literature collection managed by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) alone numbers some 285,000 pieces published since the mid-nineteenth century and representing 30,000 American companies. The Smithsonian Libraries is a 22-branch system serving the information and research needs of the Institution's staff and the general public.
  • Shedding Light on New York: Edward F. Caldwell & Co.
    The E. F. Caldwell & Co. Collection at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, contains more than 50,000 images consisting of approximately 37,000 black & white photographs and 13,000 original design drawings of lighting fixtures and other fine metal objects that they produced from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.