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Guide to Advertising Resources

Not all history takes place on battlefields and in the halls of government. Most of it grows out of the concerns that occupy the everyday lives of a nation's citizens. Since the mid-nineteenth century, those concerns -- the values, fears, dreams and desires of the American people -- have been embodied and developed in the advertisements carried in the popular press and electronic media. Advertisements offer a glimpse into the collective heart and mind of the nation and help us understand our origins and nature.

To learn how advertising reflects the patterns of American life, students and scholars need large, comprehensive collections of advertisements to help them trace the changes that Americans have undergone over the decades. Collections in the University Archives of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, along with those in the Communications Library provide an important source for the study of advertising.

University Archives

Materials relating to advertising are distributed throughout the 4,624 record series in the University Archives and 1,221 record series in the American Library Association Archives which are administered by the University Archives.

The University admissions, development, intercollegiate athletics, public affairs and student affairs offices publish advertising materials. Student publications and yearbooks contain advertisements directed toward student readers. The Advertising Department records and Charles H. Sandage  and S. Watson Dunn papers relate to instruction and graduate research, and College of Communication records reflect the development of a curriculum in advertising.

The James Evans papers contain Aubrey, Moore and Wallace's International Harvester truck and industrial power advertisements (1924-49). The papers of agricultural engineering professors, Karl Ekblaw, Emil Lehmann, and Ray I. Shawl include their collections of equipment sales and maintenance literature. Engineering Manuals and Catalogs include 25 cubic feet of laboratory and technological product literature (1944-84). Alumnus and playwright Samson Raphaelson (class of 1917) wrote advertising copy in the 1920s. A collection of 106 French World War I posters exemplifies the use of graphic arts to persuade and deliver national and ethnic stereotypes. The American Library Association's Literacy Campaign Advertisements include reports on television spots and newspaper and magazine clippings (1985-86), and the ALA Archives contain examples of poster advertisements from World War I to the present.

Advertising Council Archives

The Advertising Council Archives, administered by the University Archives since 1986, document the story of public service advertising since the early days of World War II. Founded in 1942 to bolster the nation's war effort, the War Advertising Council continued to promote a wide range of public service issues and concerns. The Advertising Council developed a unique partnership between government, the media, corporate supporters, and the advertising industry.

Among the major campaigns represented in the Ad Council Archives are Red Cross, saving bonds, forest fire prevention, the American economic system, traffic safety, aid to higher education, environmentalism, and the battles against drugs, drunk driving, and AIDS.

The Archives contain campaign promotional materials and copies of thousands of ads in nearly all major advertising formats: magazines, newspapers, radio, television, billboards and posters. The archives also tell the story behind the ads. Among the 130 cubic feet are 27 record series of office files, board and committee minutes, publications, and campaign files that document the development of advertising campaigns and the decision-making process in the selection of campaigns and preparation of materials. The Ad Council Archives have been used by researchers studying wartime advertising, cultural history, and the development of advertisisng concerns.

Cummings Center

The Archives' interest in primary source material on advertising is bolstered by the College of Communications' Cummings Center for Advertising Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Established in 1992 with initial funding from the late Barton A. Cummings, former Chairman Emeritus of Saatchi and Saatchi, the Center is dedicated to fulfilling Cummings' vision of providing a home for the interdisciplinary study of advertising issues. To help preserve advertising history, the Center is developing a database that will list the holdings of major advertising archives and libraries including those at the University of Illinois, Duke University, and the Smithsonian Institution. In addition, the Center directs research projects, and plans to conduct seminars and publish white papers on issues in advertising.

For specific inquiries about holdings and access, contact:

                        University Archives
                        19 Library
                        1408 West Gregory Drive
                        Urbana, IL 61801
                        Telephone (217) 333-0798
                        Fax (217) 333-2214

Last updated May 10, 2007