Smithsonian Collections Online: Trade Literature & the Merchandizing of Industry

Stage Cameron Pump "Photograph." National Museum of American History Library Trade Literature Collection. Gale. Smithsonian Collections Online.
Product Category
Primary Sources
More than 600,000
Fact Sheet

Explore American history and culture through advances in business and industry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The evolution of business is inextricably linked with American and international history and identity. For the first time, researchers can now explore this aspect of American and international life via catalogs, pamphlets, advertising materials, and ephemera on essential industries that emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — steam engines, railroads, motorized vehicles, agricultural/farm machinery, building and construction, mining, and more.

Trade Literature and the Merchandizing of Industry, which covers approximately 1820 to 1926, exposes technological advances over time, changes in fashion and design, architectural advances, societal changes, and business history. In doing so, it reveals vital aspects of American culture, society, and history, making Trade Literature and the Merchandizing of Industry an ideal complement to Making of the Modern WorldNineteenth Century Collections OnlineSabin Americana, and Financial Times Historical Archive, 1888-2010.

Trade Literature and the Merchandizing of Industry is comprised of items selected from the National Museum of American History Archives Center and Smithsonian Libraries and contains about one million pages of primary source content.

This digital collection allows researchers to:

• Trace the history of companies/industries
• Follow the impact of the Industrial Revolution on technology
• Compare and contrast marketing and management techniques
• Examine illustrations of the new machinery, technology, and manufacturing processes that impacted daily lives

Key research areas covered include:

  • Railroads and railway equipment
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Transportation equipment
  • Power generation
  • Building and construction
  • Iron and steel
  • Mines and mining equipment
  • Motorized vehicles

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Additional Details

Subjects Covered
  • Business and Finance
  • European Studies
  • Science and Technology
  • U.S. History

Brochure [PDF]

Term Frequency

Researchers can now easily see the frequency of search terms within sets of content to begin identifying central themes and assessing how individuals, events, and ideas interacted and developed over time.

Term Clusters

By grouping commonly occurring themes, this tool reveals hidden connections to search terms — helping scholars shape their research and integrate diverse content with relevant information.


Integrate content from complementary primary source products in one intuitive environment to enable users to make never-before-possible research connections.