Metadata Review of Market Research and American Business: 1935-1965

The metadata included in the Market Research and American Business: 1935-65 (MRAAB) collection varies widely between objects.  Consider the case of these two objects:  a memorandum titled “Report-Radio-TV advertising of Fisher’s Blend Flour” and an ad titled “How to serve a family of six for 69₵.” Both items may be searched by title, date, industry, company and brand.  However, the second item has fewer components in its metadata and some of the classifications are similar but not identical, complicating searchability.  Finally, some data points such as size, original image type and digital image type are not present in either record.

It seems that the metadata differs by the institutional source for the material.  MRAAB sources its material from the Hagley Library, the Advertising Archives and collections at Duke University. However, it is impossible to filter to test this hypothesis because the advanced search feature only allows one to initially filter the search for keywords by the terms: title, commissioned by, company and brand. Those results may be further filtered by document type, date, industry and language; however, filtering by collection of origin is not possible.  Neither is it possible to filter by copyright source or place.  In the case of the ad for Gold Medal Flour, the cataloging information about where to locate the original ad is also missing.

Metadata Schema Elements Report on Radio Advertising: Fisher’s Blend Flour from Hagley Library Advertisement Gold Medal Flour from Advertising Archives
ü    Title Title
  Box Number x
  Report Number x
  Library Source Source
  Copyright Source x
ü    Date Date
  Document Type x
  x Image Type
ü    Industry Industry
  Commissioned By x
  Conducted By x
  Place x
ü    Company Company
ü    Brand Brand
ü    Keywords Keywords
  Language x
  x Image Details
Original Image x x
Size x x
Digital Type x x

This seems to be a classic case in what JISC Digital Media describes in “Metadata: An Introduction” as an instance in which resources set forth in Market Research and American Business: 1935-65 span more than one community.  The metadata from each community is distinct, and in comingling the two schemas as starting points, the overall efficacy of searching the entire database is weakened.

Overall, the database seems to be well constructed with many visual interfaces and supplemental materials to help scaffold the content for the user.  However, at its most basic level, the database weakens itself by not paying greater attention to the details of the metadata that make this scaffolding and the search engine itself as efficient and efficacious as possible.

Review: Market Research and American Business: 1935-1965


Market Research and American Business 1935-1965, is a collection of digitized images of ads, market research, teaching tools and essays relating to the consumer culture of the mid-20th century.  The collection is grounded in the market research reports of Ernest Dichter, a psychologist who used his expertise to transform the field of consumer marketing.  The archive is easily navigated with an inviting level of visual interface accompanied by full text searchability.

The database is organized using an interactive chronology that relates the history of consumer culture to objects in the digital archive.  It also contains an Ad Gallery that allows users to visually browse through hundreds of images.  The database also provides a search engine using Boolean logic and an indexed search structure using predetermined groupings of keywords, brands and companies. Documents can be filtered by industry, date, language and genre.  Full-text searches are supported.


Date range: 1935-1965

Publisher: Adam Matthew

Publisher About page:

Object type: Images, letters, studies, memorandi, proposals, ads

Location of Original Materials:  Hagley Museum and Library

Exportable image: Yes

Facsimile image: Yes

Full text searchable: Yes

Titles list links: Search directories; Advanced search

History / Provenance:

Original catalog:  The collection is comprised of some of the papers of Ernest Dichter donated to the Hagley Museum and Library in 2007.  Much of this collection has been digitized in color to make up the lion’s share of American Market Research 1935-1965.  The full collection at the Hagley Library may be accessed here.  Additional sources are held by the John W. Hartman Center at Duke University and The Advertising Archives.

Digitized from microfilm:  No

Original sources:  Dichter’s papers were donated to the Hagley Museum and Library by his Estate.  A similar collection comprised of papers from his European office is housed at the University of Vienna.


Library Journal, November 2014


Click on World Cat to find proximal locations with access to the database

Click on here for access to a free trial from the publisher.

Info from Publisher:

A video from Adam Matthew detailing the collection.

Other Info:

The metadata for each contains annotations that provide cross references to related material and links to definitions for key words and other data.


Consult Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister Research and Documentation Online 5th Edition for a guide to citing items from the database for a variety of academic disciplines.