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Trade Catalogs

Western Electric Company, To Lighten the Labor of Your Home, 1919?.
Western Electric Company, To Lighten
the Labor of Your Home, [1919?].

Trade catalogs digitized for Women Working illustrate the dramatic changes that were taking place between 1870 and 1930 in the home, in the workplace, and in the minds of retailers and manufacturers.

Women Working makes available 6,000 pages of materials from from 155 catalogs and pamphlets from 70 companies.

Selected from the more than 700 cataloged trade catalogs in its Historical Collections, Baker Library's catalogs from 69 companies broadly document the economic and domestic lives of 19th and 20th century women: they demonstrate that women who had their own income were beginning to be thought of as consumers; they provide a richly illustrated picture of the environments in which women lived, worked, and shopped; and they illustrate the prices of goods in the marketplace.

To cite one example, the Women Working collection provides data on the wages and working conditions of women in the boot and shoe industry, examples of the boots and shoes they were making, and the prices these goods brought in shops and catalogs.

Also consider Schlesinger Library's Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company's publications and "Voice of Experience" pamphlets as a prominent example of one company's early use of advertising to provide moral guidance as a means to sell its products.

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