Hudson’s Bay Company – HBC Heritage Online 


HBC Heritage Online features a wide-range of resources that includes historical information, 

pictures, and online resources about the Hudson’s Bay Company. It offers a detailed timeline of 

the corporation, details on Hudson’s Bay Company stores across the country since the 

corporation’s founding, a history of the stores governors, and a section on transportation that 

examines the importance of canoes and boats in the store’s history, as well as in-store 

technological advances such as registers and scanners. The site also contains a section dedicated to several women integral to the company’s history. A “Learning Centre” features detailed 

bibliography, an image gallery of historical advertisements and catalogues, and a series of videos 

produced about the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company.


Archives of Ontario – Online Exhibit of Eaton’s


Created by the Archives of Ontario, this website features several sections devoted to online 

resources from the Eaton’s. It includes a large section devoted to the history of the company’s 

annual Santa Clause parade which first took place in 1905. The site features pictures from the 

parade over the years, including a section featuring the public’s stories and memories about this 

annual Toronto event. Other exhibit sections include excerpts from the company’s Christmas 

colouring book, resources on in-store Christmas exhibits, popular toys from the store throughout 

the decades, and even the company’s holiday television commercials that were first launched in 

the 1950s.


Dupuis Frères – Online Archives 


This online site features many online primary resource holdings of this popular Quebecois 

retailer. Managed and presented by HEC Montreal, it include many photographs of the Dupuis 

family, Dupuis Frères stores, employees, store events, strikes, and merchandise. It features many 

of the company’s catalogues dating back to the 1930s. The site also provides links to in-store 

company publications, annual reports, instruction manuals, and collective agreements. A link to 

the company’s larger archival holding collection is also featured. 


Canadian Museum of Civilization – Online Exhibit titled “Before E-Commerce: A History of 

Canadian Mail-Order Catalogues” 


This Canadian Museum of Civilization exhibit features a wide range of Canadian mail-order 

catalogues, from 1880 to 1975. Searchers can browse the collection by date, index, and 

company. Featured catalogues include those produced by Eaton’s, Dupuis Frères, Simpson’s, 

Army and Navy, Goodwin’s, P.T. Legaré, and Carsley. The exhibit also features discussions of a 

variety of subject matters about the mail-order collection including the history of fashion, how 

advertisers appealed to the public, company histories, and a timeline of the history of mail-order 

catalogues. The exhibit also includes comprehensive bibliographies about advertising, marketing, 

department stores, women’s fashion, and the history of mail-order catalogues generally. 


St. Francis Xavier University – The Coady Institute – Online Archives 


The Coady International Institute, based out of St. Francis Xavier University, features an online 

archives of some of their collection. Their digital archives include various documents about the 

history of the Antigonish Movement, including cooperative stores and management. It features 

photographs of cooperative workers, stores, warehouses, dairies, and housing. It includes 

publications such as pamphlets, newsletters, and other documents produced related to 

cooperative movement. 


Canada Science and Technology Museum – Online Exhibit titled “You are What you Drive!: 

Identities for Sale in 20th Century Print Car Advertisements”


This online exhibit is maintained by the Canada Science and Technology Museum, and was 

produced by Carleton University’s Masters in Public History graduate students. Exhibit materials 

were drawn from the museum’s De Bondt Collection which contains automobile advertisements 

dating from 1900-1980. The exhibit features a wide range of print advertisements, searchable by 

decades and manufacturer. It also features sections titled “Selling Luxury,” “Selling Nature,” 

“Selling Technology,” and “Selling Life Journeys” that use selected advertisement to showcase 

how companies appealed to different audiences.


Royal Alberta Museum – Virtual Online Exhibit titled “Piece by Piece – The GWG Story”


Piece by Piece is an online exhibit about the history of the Great Western Garment (GWG) brand 

which was produced by Levi Strauss & Co. in Edmonton, Alberta. It features a detailed timeline 

of the company’s history and its workers from its establishment in 1911 until it ceased 

production in 2004. The exhibit contains histories of the labour force, buildings, logos, garments, 

and advertisements. The story is told through narratives, photographs, posters, and catalogues.  

Of particular note are the extensive interviews with workers, customers, and union 

representatives. Many of these clips feature interviews with immigrants who worked in the 

factory, who discuss their work and their lives in Canada. 


Library and Archives Canada – Bon Appétite! – A Celebration of Canadian Cookbooks


This online exhibit provides a history of Canadian cookbooks. It contains information about the 

history of cooking in Canada generally, but also includes histories of the marketing and sale of 

cookbooks. It features photographs of cookbooks, recipes, and publications, many of which were 

targeted for particular communities and populations. The exhibit includes pictures and 

photographs of magazines, recipes in newspapers, and information about the way food and 

cooking were marketed throughout the country. A search function allows researchers to browse 

two of Canada’s earliest cookbooks, including La cuisinière canadienne, published in 1840, and 

The New Galt Cook Book, published in 1898.


Library and Archives Canada – Canada by Train


Canada By Train is an online exhibit that explores the history of travel by train. It includes 

information about marketing, advertising, and how train contributed to the country’s growth. The 

site includes posters, brochures, timetables, and photographs from different eras. The 

“Transcontinental Tours” section includes promotional materials listed by each provinces and 

territories, and reveals how the train was marketed to the general public. It also includes an index 

of railway companies, and a series of first-hand accounts of travel in Canada under the 

“Travelogues” section of the exhibit. A bibliography provides researchers with relevant 

secondary research.    


Library and Archives Canada – Made in Canada – Patents of Invention and the Story of 

Canadian Innovation


Made in Canada examines the history of Canadian patents. It focuses on patents from 1869 to 

1894, and features histories and photographs, images, and drawing of patents from the first fifty 

years of the country’s Patent Office, from 1869 to 1919. Patents are groups by various themes 

that include agriculture, Canada and war, communication, gadgets and things for everyday life, 

industry, medicine, science and technology, and transportation.  Bibliographies of various 

inventors who filed patents in Canada are also included in this exhibit, as are numerous 

photographs of patent designs at various stages.


Canadian Museum of Civilization – Canada at Play – An Online Exhibition of Toys and Games


Canada At Play features an exhibition of the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s extensive 

collection of toys both made in and played in Canada. It provides information about the toys 

themselves, in addition to toy manufacturers and a guide to them museum’s collection. The site 

provides pictures of toys in the museum’s collection, and images of toys and people playing with 

toys, as well as pictures of catalogues that sold and advertised toys, many of which are linked to 

Library and Archives Canada. Featured toys include dolls, stuffed animals, board games, 

dollhouses, figurines, block sets, and outdoor toys such as skip robes, balls, and marbles.


Canadian Museum of Civilization – An Online Exhibition of Canadian Dress: The Confederation 

Era (1840 – 1890) 


This online exhibit features a series of photographs and drawing of women’s, men’s, children’s, 

and working dress from Canada’s Confederation era. The site also includes numerous 

photographs of original clothes from this era. In addition to a discussion of the social history of 

dress, it also features links to catalogues and advertisements for companies that sold clothes, 

many of which are linked through Library and Archives Canada. The exhibit includes links to 

several issues of “The Delineator,” a journal of fashion and culture launched in 1876 that 

marketed mail orders for clothes patterns.


Canadian Museum of Civilization – Selling Smoke – How Canadian Cigar Boxes Pitched their 

Wares, 1883 – 1935; and Canada in a Box – Cigar Containers that Store our Past


Curated by the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Selling Smoke, and Canada in a Box reveal 

how cigar manufacturers marketed their products to customers through advertisements, cigar 

boxes, and labelling. These two exhibits feature photographs of colourful cigar boxes, wooden 

boxes and labels, with descriptions of how these good were displayed in stores and sold to the 

public. They contain a list of primary and secondary sources about the history of cigars, their 

manufacturing, and promotion. Canada in a Box also featured a video from curator Sheldon 

Posen that shows part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s cigar box collection.


Canadian Museum of Civilization – Souvenirs of Canada


Souvenirs of Canada explores citizens’ collections of souvenirs. In addition to popular and 

commercialized souvenirs, many of the objects featured on this online exhibit are personal items 

that are not necessarily produced and sold. Some of this exhibition’s sections feature mass 

marketed souvenirs often associated with visiting places in Canada. The “Travelling Our Land” 

and “Celebrating Canada” sections reveal souvenirs that are frequently sold to the public that 

reveal ways in which we commemorate important milestones and national events. Featured 

videos explore the connections between memories and these objects.   




Duke University Libraries – Online Advertising Collections 


This is the online archival holdings for the Hartman Centre for Sales, Advertising, and marketing 

History, maintained through Duke University’s Special Collection Library. The site features 

digitized advertisements and photographs associated with advertising history, for many 

companies including Coca-Cola, Esso, Kodak, American Airlines Lever Brothers, Seagrams, 

Chevrolet, Palmolive, and many more. This huge archival collection can be searched by 

company name, product, date, format, publication, headline, and even the target audience.  


Cornell University Library – Rare and Manuscript Collections – Online Exhibit titled “From 

Domesticity to Modernity – What was Home Economics?” 


This Cornell University online exhibit explores the history of home economics beginning in the 

19th century. The site features photographs of the evolution of home economics in the United 

States, that include pictures of educational scenes, influential women and educators in this field, 

advertisements, excerpts of personal diaries and manuscripts, and publications related to the 



National Museum of American History – Holidays on Display


Holidays on Display features photographs that explore the intersections between commercialism 

and holiday displays that were frequently showcased in large-scale department stores throughout 

the United States. Pictures and drawings of parade floats and store windows examine how 

important occasions are commemorated in numbers American communities, and reveal 

important connections between these exhibits and consumption. It also features holiday 

souvenirs from special holidays and parades. The site also features schematics of these displays, 

as well as photographs of workers and designers putting together these oftentimes elaborate 

displays together for public consumption. It also includes advertisements and posters for events 

such as Santa Claus parades, and holiday catalogues. 


Portrait Gallery (United States) – Ballyhoo! Posters as Portraiture!-Posters-as-Portraiture-981


Ballyhoo! is a collection of posters collected in the United States through the Portrait Gallery. 

Although the aim of this exhibit is to feature posters as portraiture, it also reveals how posters 

were used as propaganda and advertisement tools from the late nineteenth century until the 

2000s. Parts of the collection reveal how products were advertised, including war bonds, make-

up, and tickets to the theatre, movies, concerts, shows and sporting events. 


American History Museum – Taking America to Lunch


Taking America to Lunch examines a series of metal lunch boxes produced between the 1890s 

and 1980s. The exhibit features how these products were sold and marketed to both workers and 

children over the course of a century. The collection is from the Smithsonian's National Museum 

of American History. These products feature various product placements and advertisement on 



National Museum of American History – On Time – How American Has Learned to Live by the 



This exhibition examines the ways that Americans have marked time over from 1700 until 

present day. The site features two sections of particular interest. The first, “Synchronizing 

Time,” examines the way time became disciplined through such measures as the implementation 

of Standard Time, and the rise of mass production of clocks, watches, and time pieces that 

became standard items in households from 1880-1920, in addition to advertisements that 

marketed these time pieces. The second, “Saving Time,” looks at the years between 1920 and 

1960 to examine how notions of “scientific management” proliferated, as did time saving and 

convenience household items such as refrigerators became more common. 


American History Museum – Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American 

Sweatshops, 1820 – Present


This online exhibit looks at the history of American sweatshops, and features photographs of 

sweatshops, machinery, workers, and the mass production of garments. Although this exhibit 

features mostly photographs of the original collection on display at the American History 

Museum, the pictures of the exhibit display relevant information.



Consumer History Artifacts


Last updated 2016. Compiled by Meaghan Beaton, Kiera Mitchell, and Donica Belisle.


This is a listing of major digital repositories of consumer history artifacts.  


New collections appear on the web every day.  This list is not exhaustive; it is merely a sample of the many quality sites available.


If a link has expired, please be in touch.


Table of Contents

Hudson's Bay Company


Dupuis Frères

Mail Order Catalogues

Coady Institute

Car Advertisements

Great Western Garment Co.

Canadian Cookbooks

Canada by Train


Toys & Games

Dress in the Confederation Era

Canadian Cigar Boxes

Souvenirs of Canada


Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

Home Economics

Holidays on Display

Poster Advertisements

Lunch Buckets

Watches and Clocks