January 24, 2022

Advertising: The Internet Archive Now Provides Access to AdViews Database of Vintage TV Commercials

The AdViews database from the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke University’s Special Collection Library has been online for several years and offers researchers access to “thousands” of television commercials from the 1950s-1980s that were “collected or created” by Benton & Bowles or its successor, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B).

The database has value to many types of researchers (history, media, pop culture, art, graphic design, etc.) and is also fun (yes, fun) to search/browse around when you have some spare time.

You can now access the AdViews database in three places.

First, direct from the Hartman Center at Duke University.

Second, in the past few days the Internet Archive has become a new location to access AdViews.

One thing we like about the Internet Archive interface is the ability to browse though a list of sub-collections organized by company or product listed on a single page. The Hartman Center version also has browsing options so you might to consider using both interfaces. Regardless of which interface(s) you use browsing only provides a only a portion of what the database holds. Of course, it’s possible to search the database and everything can be downloaded for offline use.

Third, a small collection of commercials from the AdViews database are available on iTunes.

Finally, before we end this post and start watching Alphabits and Fresca commercials (-:, here’s a list of several additional advertising databases the Hartman Center provides online.

  • Ad*Access
    An image database of over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955.
  • Emergence of Advertising in America
    A database of over 9,000 advertising items and publications (1850 – 1920), illustrating the rise of consumer culture, and the birth of a professionalized advertising industry.
  • Medicine and Madison Avenue
    A database of over 600 health-related advertisements printed between 1911 and 1958, as well as 35 selected historical documents relating to health-related advertising.
  • ROAD: Resource of Outdoor Advertising Descriptions
    A database of over 50,000 descriptions of images of outdoor advertising dating from the 1920s through the 1990s, pulled from four outdoor advertising collections including the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). No images are available from this website.

One more? The Internet Archive is home to two additional collections of tv commercials.

Hat Tip and Thanks: @InternetArchive and Raj at the Internet Archive

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.