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Michigan State University

Advertising & Public Relations

Research databases focused specifically on advertising and public relations subjects

Strategies for Finding Advertisements

Finding specific advertisements that appeared in magazines, newspapers, television, and on the Web for certain products and companies can be a tedious and time-consuming process.  Here are a few strategies for finding advertisements using library and free resources:

  • Time period: Which years do you want to find advertisements from?
  • Type of media: Which type of advertisements are you looking for?  Magazines?  Newspapers?  Television?  Radio? Web? 
  • Company or product:  Do you want advertisements from an entire company or one of their products or brands?  

Once you have answered these questions, then you can try some of the following resources to locate advertisements:

  • Reference books - a few reference books in the Business Library contain images of printed advertisements spanning seven decades.
  • Books - there are many books in the Libraries containing images of advertisements based upon the company or topic.
  • Periodicals - one of the best ways to find advertisements is to browse popular magazines such as Time, Life, Reader's Digest, etc. from various decades.
  • Databases - the libraries subscribe to a few databases that contain television ads and some printed ad material.
  • Ad Collections on the Web - there are several free digital advertising collections available online.
  • Google - use the image search to find advertisements on your product, company, or topic.

The following are links to resources that can help you get started:


The following is an electronic encyclopedia.

Advertising Collections on the Web


One of the best ways to find advertisements is to browse popular magazines such as Time, Life, Reader's Digest, etc. from various decades.

Here are a few call number locations for popular periodicals to start with:

Life - AP2 .L547 (Remote Storage), 1936-2000 (years vary)

Collier's - AP2 .C65 (Remote Storage), 1907-1957

Reader's Digest - Main Library AP2 .R22 (2nd floor, East Wing), 1927-present (years vary) - additional volumes at Remote Storage

Reference Books

All American Ads

NC998.5.A1 (call numbers vary by volume, Reference) - These books contain printed color pictures of advertisements appearing in printed publications.  There are seven volumes.  Each volume represents a decade of advertisements, ranging from 1920 - 1980.  There is an index in the back of each volume listing the company and/or product included, however, it does not list the specific publications where the advertisements appeared.

The Advertising age encyclopedia of advertising

HF5803 .A38 2003 (v. 1-3, Reference)  - Encyclopedia that contains select advertisements.