A Winter Trip via the Railway

Now that it’s cold outside, this is the perfect time to think of warmer temperatures and perhaps a vacation. The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes a lot of railway-related catalogs but not all of them are about equipment and supplies. Some are directed towards the tourist, like this nineteenth century catalog by Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River Railway.

Crepe Paper Creations

With just a few days left until Christmas, everyone is rushing around trying to accomplish last minute things, like finding the perfect gift. The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes several Dennison Mfg. Co. catalogs which give ideas for homemade party decorations and even handmade gifts.

For bicyclists and shutter bugs

This post was written by Adrian Vaagenes, volunteer in the National Museum of American History library. In the last five years, the Go-Pro, the durable HD camera of daredevils the world over, has become ubiquitous. Whether out on the trails or on the streets, it’s not uncommon to see a bicyclist documenting his or her latest excursions. Photography and bicycles have a long history, literally growing up together, with both  the first more »

A Watch Almanac Takes Us Back in Time

One of the fun things about working with the Trade Literature Collection is that you never know what you might come across. There are hundreds of thousands of catalogs in the collection. The catalogs cover many, many subjects–food, clothing, toys, machine tools, boilers, lighting, medical supplies, and much more. But every so often, one catalog in particular might catch your eye. This time, it was a trade catalog by National Elgin Watch more »

The Candy Making Past

With Halloween just around the corner, this is the perfect time to flip through candy-related trade catalogs. Today, with the mass production of products, we might not think about how things were made in the past. To make candy, ingredients needed to be grated, peeled, granulated, and cut. What machines performed that work? And how long did it take?

A Visit to the Opera in 1886

At first glance, the front cover of this trade catalog shows an opera chair. But take a closer look and you might see something you didn’t expect to see. A hat appears to be attached to the bottom of the seat. That is just one of several special features built into these chairs.

A Salesman in 1917

While browsing the Trade Literature Collection, you never know what you might find. One search might lead you to discover something you never realized was even there. Recently, I was searching for catalogs related to food or ones that included recipes. That led me to this 1917 almanac from J. R. Watkins Medical Co.

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