Advertising in the Collections

Months ago, while scanning material from a collection, this old advertisement for Kenmore Washers and Dryers caught my eye and when I noticed another ad later, I had the idea to collect various advertisements for a blog post. These advertisements came from a variety of our collections, including Rebecca West, William Settle, The Tulsa Women’s Club, and the Barbara Santee Archive.

The people who work hard to design eye-catching ads love them far more than the people who ignore them as much as possible, especially since we are inundated with a seemingly infinite quantity of ads in magazines, books, television, movies, and websites.

scanned image of an advertisement for Sears and Kenmore Washer and Dryers

The First Advertisement

Some of the ads are for local places, which makes it exciting to see Tulsa’s changes over the years.

scanned black and white newspaper clipping with an advertisement for Borders located at 81st and South Yale and 21st and the BA

We missed the bargain blowout…Borders is long gone

Borders went from two locations to none, while Rib Crib has expanded from four locations to eleven, stretching from Claremore to Sapulpa and everywhere in between.

Scanned image of an advertisement for Rib Crib Award Winning BBQ Ribs with locations around Tulsa

The Rib Crib chain has grown quite a lot since this ad was published

The Skelly Oil Company was eventually acquired by the Getty Oil Company, which itself was later acquired by Texaco. This ad makes a case for its value so it was probably quite successful at the time.

Scanned image of an advertisement that reads "Houses differ in value and so do gasolines / Skelly Gasoline / Skelly Oil Company Here are a few ads we aren’t likely to see again…

Scanned image of advertisements for Evan William alcohol and Newsweek magazine Scanned black and white image of an advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes "In the stocking under the tree-for every smoker on your list








scanned black and white image of an advertisement for American Express credit card that reads "Even before finals, you could finally get the American Express card"…at least in these formats. No matter how many regulations appear, advertisers will cleverly evolve and the chase will continue.

Speaking of evolution, what has changed more in this picture, car styling or the prices that accompany them? What is advertised, where and how are part of what makes advertising a surprisingly useful snapshot of the past. Insights gleaned from ephemeral ads improve the context of a particular topic or time period. Advertisements can be used to study pop culture, psychology, or history in addition to economics and marketing.
scanned image of a newspaper clipping with a picture of a Geo Metro and a table of rental rates

Scanned image of a newspaper clipping with four book advertisements

Book Advertisements


Scanned image of advertisements surrounding book reviews









On the left we have a page of advertisements for four different books, and on the right we have a page of book titles, with advertisements for a variety of things from apartments  to language lessons to paintings for rental.

scanned image of a black and white page of advertisements surrounding an article about Joyce's Dublin

Advertisements…for when you need to read about Joyce and shop for bathing suits and angora sweaters simultaneously

Historical advertisements had to appeal to a much broader audience than today, but this page from Vogue shows that they still targeted particular consumer groups as much as possible.


These images were all scanned specifically for this blog post but if you want to see any of the many collections we hold, please contact us at for arrangements. We have in-person appointments for TU affiliates and provide digital copies for nonaffiliates. Our visitor policy can be found here and our archival catalog can be found here.

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