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HSHM 488: The History of Drugs and Addiction in America: Drug, Tobacco, and Alcohol Advertising

This course guide is for HSHM 488: The History of Drugs and Addiction in America, taught by Marco Ramos, M.D.

Collections of Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco advertising

This section provides suggestions for ways to uncover tobacco, drug, and alcohol advertising from various time periods.  From curated collection dedicated to one topic, to magazines stuffed with advertising, there are many approaches for diving into historical advertising.

Tobacco Advertising

Doctor offering a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes

One of the top online collections for tobacco and cigarette advertising is the Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising. This contains historical advertising organized by categories.

UCSF also has a huge resource in this area, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. This includes commercials, advertising, and millions of other documents about the tobacco industry's practices to sell product.

Yale also owns the William Van Duyn Tobacco Advertising Collection. Van Duyn, a former smoker, collected advertisements and news articles related to tobacco, especially to cigarette smoking. These include cigarette advertisements by company and brand; other forms of tobacco advertisements including billboards (photographs taken by Van Duyn), merchandise catalogs, and sponsorship of racing; and newspaper and magazine articles and ephemera related to the anti-smoking movement and tobacco regulation and litigation. Explore our online exhibition Selling Smoke to delve into a number of these advertisements. The National Library of Medicine has a collection on anti-smoking advertising.

Drug and Alcohol Advertising

Image of slice of brain used to sell meprospan

Medical Heritage Library - a digital library composed of collections of several medical libraries, including Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and the National Library of Medicine, contains freely downloadable books on a variety of topics.  Looking for drug advertising directed at physicians?  Look at the State Medical Journals, which contains medical advertising in many of the volumes.

Medicine and Madison Avenue has images and information for approximately 600 health-related advertisements printed in newspapers and magazines. These ads illustrate the variety and evolution of marketing images from the 1910s through the 1950s. The collection represents a wide range of products such as cough and cold remedies, laxatives and indigestion aids, and vitamins and tonics, among others.

Drug Industry Documents: An archive of documents created by major pharmaceutical companies related to their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales and scientific research, hosted by the UCSF Library.

FDA Notices of Judgment Collection is a digital archive of the published federal notices of judgment (a summary of the final outcome of a court case) for manufacturers and products prosecuted under authority of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. The judgments summarize the government's case about a product's adulteration or misbranding (and advertising) and the court's decision.

Vintage Ad Browser with Alcohol advertising:  A personal site with thousands of alcohol advertisements by decade.

Women's Magazine Archive:  find Cosmopolitan, Parents magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Seventeen, Essence and other women's magazine from the late 19th into the 21st centuries, with full color advertising.

American Periodicals Series - periodicals/journals published between 1740 and 1940, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, with advertising.

Digital Public Library of America - hooks into many different digital collections, like HathiTrust, and has great features for discovering materials, including browsing by topic.

Advertising in Google Books

Black man holding a glass and bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch

Do you know that you can find historic popular magazines and journals on Google Books? If you are looking for advertising, this is a great resource.  The illustration above is from Ebony, March 1970

Explore Life magazine (one of the most popular magazines between 1950-1970, full of health and medicine articles and advertisements), Ebony and Jet (for African-American audiences).  Click on any of these links, or on any cover of one of the magazines, and you'll see an option to "Search all issues" that you can click right under the search box:

You can search for your topic through all the issues, so no need to click on each cover!  While you can't download the magazines, you have free access to all the content.