Thursday, January 29, 2009


The Ad*Access Project by Duke University's Hartman Center

The Ad*Access Project was digitized from the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives' "Competitive Advertisements Collection (Pre-1955 Files)", a collection of ad clippings made by the Thompson advertising firm to keep tabs on their competition, and follow trends in ad design. It's a closed project, with a well defined scope. It seems like a good candidate for digitization because of the fragility of the ad clippings, benefitting researchers by allowing the collection to be seen outside of the archive for the first time.

The scans are easy to navigate, grouped into one of five broad categories, which also determines how the scans are named. There's a "details" page for each of the scans, which provides metadata fields, and allows you to search through some of these fields. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they offered information on the magazine or newspaper the object was clipped from, but was puzzled by their decision not to include it as a searchable field.

The collection seems responsive to intellectual property concerns, as evidenced by the scans of Arrid ads that have been pulled due to copyright restrictions. This also shows that the collection is actively managed. The copyright policy allows for Fair Use of the scans without prior permission, and facilitates this by offering scans in 72ppi and 150ppi, in an easily downloadable format. I'm glad the scans are easy to save, and not in a proprietary format like Flash, but wish they had included 300ppi scans for better print quality.

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