Advertising: The Art of Persuasion

Advertising poster

Kriege’s Hatchery advertising poster; 18 inches x 12 inches. Circa 1927-1930. MCHS document 1993-085-0006.

The social history preserved in advertisements is like an archaeological record. . . .

—William M. O’Barr, “A Brief History of Advertising in America,” Advertising & Society Review 6, no. 3 (2005)

Advertising aims to attract and persuade. Catch the buyer’s attention and then motivate them to buy. Sellers leverage all kinds of media and employ countless tactics to achieve those goals. Like all consumables, advertisements are often lost to history, their existence evidenced only by their effect on consumer behavior.

This online exhibition showcases examples of advertising surviving in the Madison County Historical Society collections. The exhibition focuses on visual-only advertising: it stops at the age of radio and television. (Textual advertising got a shot in the arm with the advent of the internet, but this exhibition doesn’t go there.)

What does the archaeological record of textual and textual-visual advertisements tell us about Madison County history?

This exhibit was written and designed by Mary Z. Rose, Assistant Curator at the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library. Please send your feedback and/or any questions about this exhibition to