Within the Advertising Ephemera Collection, Baker Library holds more than 8,000 trade cards, over 1,100 of which are available in digital form, representing the full range of products and businesses advertised through this medium from the 1870s through the 1890s. The Bates Trade Card Collection includes an additional 500 trade cards, primarily from companies in the Boston area, some of which are housed in original scrapbooks. Both the Advertising Ephemera and Bates Collections include souvenir publications, almanacs, brochures, business cards, novelty items, scrapbooks, and advertising posters.
The Advertising Ephemera Collection is organized by industry numbers and has been indexed. Indexes for the Trade Cards, the Business Cards, and the Scrapbooks, organized by industry and alphabetically by manufacturer, business, or product within the industry, are available.
Over 1,100 of Baker Library's trade cards have been digitized and are available through the Visual Information Access (VIA) system.
Searching in VIA is by non-case sensitive keywords such as the industry, product, service, activity, or place. On the main search screen you may enter one or more words and choose the field you want to search. For more information, see the VIA help page.
The entire collection is available for academic and scholarly research in Baker Library Historical Collections.
Baker Library Historical Collections has a remarkably rich and diversified collection of trade catalogs covering a wide array of subject areas, including agriculture, textile manufacturing, hardware and machine tools, railroads, automobiles, aviation, consumer products, household furnishings, leisure goods, and scientific and optical instruments. The collection holdings range in date from the early nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century, with the greatest concentration of materials falling between 1870 and 1900. There is a strong representation of New England industry and trade, particularly in eastern Massachusetts.
Baker Library’s trade catalogs are searchable through the Harvard On-Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) catalogs. A selection of catalogs has been digitized (see Example 1, Example 2, Example 3), and links to the online versions are available from the HOLLIS records.
To search HOLLIS, use keywords such as "trade catalogs" and the business, product, or industry of interest, and narrow your search to the holdings at Baker Library.
The Baker Old Class Collection is a valuable resource for tracing the development and growth of American business and industry from the late nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century. Among the collection holdings are rare and ephemeral books, pamphlets, trade manuals, and trade periodicals relating to advertising and printing. Noted titles of journals, multi-volume publications, and books include the Inland Printer; Fowler’s Publicity: An Encyclopedia of Advertising and Printing; and About Advertising and Printing: A Concise, Practical, and Original Manual on the Art of Local Advertising.