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