Take a Ride Back in Time with Smithsonian

3 min read

By Jennifer Albers-Smith

How great is Amazon Prime? While I appreciate the expedited shipping, far and above, my favorite thing about it is all the opportunities to watch full TV series, both new and old.

Sure, it’s no secret I’m a big fan of Downton Abbey or that I love period dramas. So when Amazon Prime recommended the BBC production Lark Rise to Candleford, I jumped on the opportunity to fall in love with a new show. The series features four seasons of absolute greatness, and I love it. It takes place in the late 1800s and follows the story of how a postmistress (yes, mistress, not master) takes the small town of Candleford by storm.

Here at Gale, we just released a really intriguing archive called Smithsonian Collections Online: Trade Literature and the Merchandizing of Industry. The name and content can seem daunting, but, believe me, it’s fascinating. And when I watched the above-mentioned show and saw mail carriers riding bikes for the first time (most people only walk at about three miles per hour; the utilization of the bicycle enabled these mail carriers to move along their routes at speeds closer to ten miles per hour–what a difference!) as well as engaging examples of how farm workers used to toil day-in and day-out before the first steam tractors and planters were designed and built, I began to see this archive in a whole new light.

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about what these types of inventions meant to people, and I wanted to know how they changed lives. As a marketer, I wanted to know how these inventions were marketed to those that purchased them. This collection does just that.

Nancy Gwinn, Director of Smithsonian Libraries, speaks more about how you can take a look at a trade literature catalog to learn so much more about how it was used, how it was marketed, how items were repaired, and more. Check it out in the video below:

trade lit video preview

As an added bonus, here is just one of many images that shows both a drawing of the latest advances in farm machinery along with a photograph of it in use.

thresher thresher2

This archive truly has a wealth of material with not-yet-tapped possibilities.


photoAbout the Author

Jennifer loves her children, dogs, and Jane Austen. She has a B.A. in English and Sociology from the University of Michigan, and spends her waking hours as a marketing director and feeding her family.


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