Old Booklets Make Interesting Reading

Old Booklets Make Interesting Reading

A promotional booklet nearly a century old turns out to be a jackpot of information!

For someone who genuinely loves history, finding copies of original documents can be unexpected sources of history.  Earlier today I was searching for information on Sears, Roebuck & Co., since I am writing about a character who works as a typist for the company in the 1920s -- Sears was a major employer of female typists in the 1920s.  I was delighted to come across a digitized copy of "A Visit to Sears, Roebuck and Co." -- a promotional booklet that describes the generous working conditions and the process of filling orders from the point of view of an anonymous visitor -- during my search.

Sometimes history can be found in the most unexpected places: old booklets and promotional pamplets, for example.  For instance, from this booklet I learned how my character was likely to go during her commute to work each day, and I got to see pictures of the grounds -- the photographs being much more impressive than the descriptions I had read so far.  I was also able to compare the pictures to some old zoning maps I found online and Google's street view of what is left of the complex now, and create a pretty detailed map of my own that shows where everything is.

Old photographs and postcards can also contain some great history lessons.  I've been searching for old images of Chicago, the Sears Complex, and other locations, and it's amazing what you can find via eBay and Google.  I'm finding that many library and museum websites have collections of old photographs that they have scanned and made available online (you can usually order prints for a small fee).

In what unexpected places have you found lessons in history?