Documenting Advertising History

Materials that document the history, operation, policies, and accomplishments of a company or trade association, or that illustrated an individual's career in advertising are of potential interest for permanent preservation in a repository. Single items sometimes are important, but bodies of records that show processes and the development of ideas, campaigns, and strategies can be of especial value.


  • Files of print advertisements arranged by campaign or product category
  • Television and radio commercials
  • Collections of advertising ephemera (trade cards, catalogs, etc.) or product packaging
  • Advertising cookbooks, especially prior to 1970
  • Office files or surviving papers of advertising executives, especially those long associated with an agency, campaign, or organization, or recognized as important contributors to the industry
  • Scrapbooks, memoirs, organizational histories
  • Speeches and articles
  • Internal agency or organization publications (newsletters, pamphlets, books, etc)
  • Advertising case histories
  • Reports incorporating major recommendations or plans
  • Research reports
  • Photographs or slides of people, activities, buildings, advertised products,advertisements
  • Original artwork for advertisements or billboard posters
  • Radio or television scripts; TV commercial storyboards/photoboards
  • Client presentations
  • Subject files
  • Trade journals, especially comprehensive sets
  • Other books and publications from within or about the advertising industry
  • Additions to collections that already are part of the Hartman Center


  1. Concerning confidentiality: It sometimes is appropriate to negotiate a temporary restriction on use of unpublished material (e.g. personal papers or business records) that is of recent date of which may affect business confidentiality or individuals' privacy.
  2. When we are offered material that is not appropriate for the Hartman Center, our staff makes an effort to help prospective donors find a suitable home for that material. We do not acquire collections of 3-D artifacts that usually are more appropriate for museums, though a small number of such objects as part of a larger collection may be acceptable.
  3. For further information please contact the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History

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