Duke's Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library has posted a new online database of more than 600 health-related advertisements printed in newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1958. Medicine and Madison Avenue is meant to illustrate the variety and evolution of marketing images from the period. The collection includes a range of products, such as cough and cold remedies, laxatives and indigestion aids, vitamins, and tonics. The images are part of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History, with the bulk of the ads coming from the J. Walter Thompson Company's Competitive Advertising File.
The website includes a section of suggestions for classroom use--such as case studies and classroom exercises--and is part of a general library effort to make its collections more accessible to a range of academic settings. Library officials say the database will provide materials relevant to a range of courses, including American history, history of health and healing, American studies, sociology, women's studies, and communications.
The database received 53,806 hits in less than a month, with readers from as far away as the Slovak Republic, Brunei, Egypt, and Japan.