Big Game Got you Thinking?

In addition to being one of the most popular sporting events of the year, the Super Bowl is celebrated for its commercials. In case the game got you thinking about media and advertisements, or if you find yourself curious about the history of advertising, or even if you’re looking for snazzy images to include in a presentation, the library has something for you.

In addition to a number of resources that allow users to search for historical ads, the library has information about the history, practice, and techniques of advertising. While these resources may be especially useful for students in business or communications, those in history, various area studies, and the visual and graphic arts may also find information and inspiration from the resources below. Advertisements provide researchers primary source documentation in a visual format and can tell us about popular products, trends in marketing, and the history of popular visual culture.

Getting started…
The library staff has created a library page devoted to helping students find this information: Advertising, Illustrations and Photographs. This is a great resource for locating all kinds of images.

The database Ad Access contains advertisements from the United States and Canada. This resource is limited to the first half of the twentieth century (1911-1955) and categorizes ads into five different groups based on what product they promote. Users can search for specific items or browse by a number of criteria, including publication, medium, and subject.

Emergence of Advertising in America deals with the early history of advertising in the United States. In addition to 9,000 images drawn from “cookbooks, photographs of billboards, print advertisements, trade cards, calendars, almanacs, and leaflets for a multitude of products,” the site includes a timeline that covers the history of American advertising from the 1850s until 1920.

Current Advertisements:
For the latest advertisements, patrons can head over to the current periodicals section, which recently relocated to the Reference Reading Room on the first floor of the East Tower of the Herman B Wells Library. In addition to many scholarly journals, the library also subscribes to a number of popular interest magazines. While scholarly journals often have subject-specific ads, the popular interest magazines print ads for an eclectic range of products. Flipping through these items reveals a great deal about current trends in marketing and patterns of consumption.

Interested in current practices in advertising? The library also subscribes to a number of industry journals, in which the practice of advertising is explored in depth. Two of note are Advertising Age and International Journal of Advertising . Current articles from Advertising Age are located on their website, while earlier issues are available through the library web page. Search for Advertising Age in the search box on the library web page and scroll down to the category Journal Titles.

To gain some international perspective, be sure to check out the International Journal of Advertising; recent issues are available electronically through IUCAT, while older copies can be ordered from the ALF.

For a longer list of journal titles check out the Advertising and PR Research Guide page.

For a comprehensive overview of the history of advertising, the Wells library has a copy of: Adland: a global history of advertising, located in the West Tower of the Wells library, in the Undergraduate Services Core Collection under the call number: HF5823 .T83 2007

For further help locating advertisements be sure to stop by the Wells Reference Desk!

Bursting at the Seams with Costume Resources

[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.
[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.

Have you ever looked at an illustration of the book The Great Gatsby, and wondered how to describe what the characters are wearing? Have you ever thought to look up how members of the Azande culture dress versus the Burundi culture? Or how one might costume a production of the eighteenth-century play She Stoops to Conquer? Or even brainstorming what to wear this coming Halloween?

Costume research is relevant to a variety of disciplines: from theater and drama, to fashion design, history, anthropology, folklore, English, and art history. Next time you are considering a research topic in the aforementioned areas, perhaps a topic in costume could fit the bill?

If so, IU libraries has you covered – we have all kinds of print and electronic resources designed to help you answer these kinds of questions and more.

Electronic resources


Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion

This is a magisterial resource, literally encyclopedic in its coverage. Remember, this database is available only on campus, so make a note to visit next time you’re on campus–otherwise you can find more information on downloading a VPN for your computer or device here.

eHRAF World Cultures (also known as eHRAF Collection of Ethnography)

A database devoted to world cultures produced by the research agency Human Relations Area Files. It has a great browsing function for ethnic groups. This database is a little complicated to search – make sure to capitalize on the help pages in order to use it most effectively.


A great resource for images across a variety of disciplines. Use the Advanced Search option to search or browse within the Fashion, Costume and Jewelry classification.


A consortium of art museums that brings together images of some of the finest works of art. For our purposes today, right on the main page is a link that will enable you to search within Costume and Jewelry.


American Memory

The Smithsonian Institution has compiled a huge and endlessly fascinating digital library from their permanent collections. Don’t stop at costume – look at photography, early film, folkways, and all kinds of amazing content!

American Periodicals Online

This resource is incredibly useful for all kinds of primary source research, as it compiles over a thousand serials, fulltext, with dates ranging from 1740 to 1900.

Great Britain

British Periodicals

Another great primary source database, this time for the British Isles. While you’re at it, check out Eighteenth Century Journals, C-19, and Nineteenth Century UK Periodicals!

VADS or Visual Arts Data Service

This is a great resource for all manner of visual arts. Major museums and archives throughout Great Britain have contributed their collections to this online archive, making it a rich and worthwhile use of your valuable research time.

London Low Life

This is a great resource, not only because it offers all kinds of primary source materials, but also because it is partially compiled from items held in the Lilly Library! Part of the digitization agreement stipulated that IU users could access this database free of charge – so go ahead, what are you waiting for?


IUCAT is where to go for books at IU. Remember that this searches all libraries in the Indiana University system (Bloomington, yes, but also Fort Wayne, Columbus, and South Bend, among others), so make careful note of where books are located.

One great way to find reference sources in print is to use the Reference Room Quicksearch – you can search for reference materials held only in the Reference Reading Room of Herman B Wells Library. A list of records with the subject term “costume” can be found here. Spending a few hours with these books will kickstart your research efficiently and effectively. Plus, you’ll always know they’ll be in the stacks, because reference room materials don’t circulate (unless you ask the staff at the Reference Desk nicely).

Here is a list of records held at Fine Arts Library with all books under the subject heading “costume.” Using Advanced Keyword Search, you can type in “costume” as your subject heading, while using other search terms to narrow your search – like “United States,” or “19th Century,” or what whatever you happen to be interested in. Use the keyword search if you are not sure how to phrase your search term.

And one final reminder about books – your field of knowledge is certainly not limited to local holdings. Simply use Worldcat to find many more sources about your topic. Each record has a link to request items using our Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan Services, enabling you to request books from many different libraries.

A hot tips for your searching serendipity: remember to think of relevant synonyms for your search strategies. Many catalogs use the subject term “costume,” but others could use “dress,” “garb,” “clothes” or “clothing,” especially if you have delved into unmediated internet searching. If one search doesn’t work, try another related term to see if anything relevant returns.

Never forget – librarians are here to help! Ask now!!


Sustainability Themester | Big World, Big Library, Big Resources

This photograph was taken by an astronaut in the International Space Station, and shows thunderstorms in Brazil. Image Credit: NASA website for the Earth Observatory (

Many people have seen An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s film on global warming, and societies around the world are recognizing that the planet’s future depends upon actions taken today. To help the IU Bloomington community understand these issues on a deeper level, the University’s Themester is a transdisciplinary approach to the issue of sustainability. To help people find resources on this topic, one of the Reference Librarians (Nels Gunderson) has created a webpage devoted to researching “the practices, concepts, and issues associated with environmental sustainability including waste recycling, the conservation of water and energy resources, alternative forms of transportation, and the wise use of natural resources.” This webpage compiles in one helpful location online databases, books, articles, and websites devoted to sustainability issues.

Continue reading “Sustainability Themester | Big World, Big Library, Big Resources”

What’s Happening To Women’s Happiness?

Author Marcus Buckingham writes in a post about social indicators that indicate women are less happy. “Wherever researchers have been able to collect reliable data on happiness, the finding is always the same: greater educational, political, and employment opportunities have corresponded to decreases in life happiness for women, as compared to men.” 

Read more at:

Average happiness index value for the period 1972-2006. Source: Based on responses to question 157 of the General Social Surveys

Beyond Google Scholar

There’s no doubt about it – you can find thousands of academic articles from searching Google Scholar, and perhaps you’ve never felt you needed to search any further. But wait – what if you can’t find what you need? Or what if you just want to see if there’s more out there? We subscribe to about 600 databases, many of which are aimed at a particular field of scholarly research. And most of the general databases have much more sophisticated advanced search mechanisms than Google Scholar so you can find what you need more efficiently.  

Here are just a handful of the excellent databases to which you have free access as a current student or faculty member: 

Academic Search Premier                                            Periodicals Archive Online

ABI/Inform                                                                      Web of Science

JSTOR                                                                                Project Muse                                                     

You can get to all of these from our homepage, where, in the Resource Gateway, you can select from the A-Z list. This is where you can also see other databases that we recommend for starting your research. 

Want to find a list of databases for your discipline? Go to our Subjects tab, where you can click on a subject and pull up a list of electronic resources arranged by category. Often, you can find further links to special collections in this subject, as well as contact information for the subject librarian. 

What if you have a citation, but still can’t track down the electronic version of the article? Don’t despair!  If you look up the name of the journal in IUCAT (using Periodical Title Search), you may find that we own the journal in print. If so, you don’t even have to come into the library to read it – just go to our homepage and enter “Request Article Delivery” in the search box. Then, look in the box called Library Web Pages, and click on the link. You can request anything that we have in print on the IUB campus (including microform and materials in storage) and we’ll scan the article and send you a link to it in an e-mail a few days later. 

And if we don’t own the journal in print? It’s rare that we can’t obtain an article. All you have to do is go to the Services tab on our homepage and click on “Submit an ILL Request”. You’ll need to log in – and if you’ve never done this before, there’s a one-time registration form, which takes a minute or so to complete. Our Interlibrary Loan department will track down a library that owns the article you need and you’ll have it in a matter of days.