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The Dartmouth College Collection of Television Commercials

Compiled by Karen C. Lund
Jump to: Introduction | Information on Using This Guide | Suggested Reading


The Dartmouth College Collection of television commercials consists of approximately 500 commercials made by Robert Lawrence Productions during the period of 1952 to 1963. The collection contains commercials that were for distribution in the United States as well as ones for Canadian distribution.

Robert Lawrence established Robert Lawrence Productions in 1952. He established Grantray-Lawrence Productions in 1954 and opened a Canadian office for Robert Lawrence Productions in 1955. An alumni of Dartmouth College, Lawrence donated a collection of commercials to Dartmouth which, in turn, gave a portion of the collection to the Library of Congress in 1966, hence the name of the collection.

The commercials were all broadcast, except for some entries which appear to be test footage. A wide variety of items is shown in these commercials which were solicited by an equally diverse range of companies. Many of the commercials are in French for French Canadians or in Spanish, reflecting the diverse markets that were reached by these commercials.

These commercials, as with other films and videotapes in the Library's collections, are not available for loan, but may be viewed at the Library by researchers by advance appointment. For further information, consult GUIDELINES FOR VIEWING FILMS AND VIDEOTAPES or contact: Reference Librarian; Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division; Library of Congress; Washington, DC 20540; telephone: (202) 707-8572; fax: (202) 707-2371.

Copying of the films and videocassettes in the Library's collections depends on copyright and donor restrictions. For more information, consult GUIDELINES FOR REQUESTS TO COPY FILM AND VIDEOTAPES or contact: Public Services Office; Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division; Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540; telephone: (202) 707-5623 or -0246; fax: (202) 707-2371.

The Library of Congress also has other television commercials in its collections. Many are listed in the older manual card files. They are listed under the name of the sponsor and are not brought together as a genre.

Since about 1987, commercials have been cataloged on the Library's MUMS computer system. On MUMS, commercials are listed with the generic term "television commercial" followed by the sponsor and commercial title, if known. MUMS can be accessed by computer in a variety of ways. It is available through the Library of Congress Information System at the following Telnet addresses: LOCIS.LOC.GOV or It is also available through the LC Marvel Campus-Wide Information System when the following series of headings are chosen in order:

  1. Library of Congress Online Systems
  2. ****Connect to LOCIS (Public Users--No Password Needed)
  3. Library of Congress Catalog (Option 1 under LOCIS; Library of Congress Information System)
  4. Select Any One of Choices 1, 3, 4, or 5
Once users have entered any one of the last four choices, they can start searching MUMS for television commercials.*

In addition, several finding aids list television commercial collections at the Library and are available from the reference librarian in the Motion Picture Reading Room. These include ones covering the Karr Collection, the Karr Collection of Public Service Announcements, and the Gitt Collection. These are accessible via Internet through the LC Marvel Campus-Wide Information System.

*Thanks to Stephen Kharfen for providing the information on accessing the on-line systems.

Information on Using This Guide

The title listed for each commercial was taken from information written on the film itself. Where there was no title written on the film, a title was supplied for it, and this is indicated in the entry. Many times the titles on commercials from a certain company would be the same even though the commercials themselves were all different. In these cases, additional titular information has been supplied to distinguish the commercials from each other. This is mentioned in the note area for each entry. The brand name listed has been taken from the product as shown on screen in most cases.

For most of these films, additional information such as production numbers, other titles, or language used was written on the film. This information has been put into the note area. The absence of notes indicates that there was nothing written on the film. Pertinent information such as whether a commercial is animated, if it is in a language other than English, and if it is linked to a television program can also be found in the note area.

Some of the commercials have second copies available. This is listed in the entry for each commercial. Copy 2 of any commercial can be assumed to be the same as copy 1 if no notes indicate other information.

In some cases, a company will take one commercial and alter it slightly to create a new version. For example, it may change the ending (the tag) to read "also available in the United States," or it may showcase special packaging. In these cases, if there is any difference in the commercials, they are treated as separate commercials and are listed here in separate entries.

The format for each entry in the guide is as follows:

Product / Company

      Title of commercial                   Shelf no.
      Physical information about the reel
      Product type
      Supplied title (when applicable)
      Notes:  whether it is animated or in a foreign language, if a famous person is 
      featured, pertinent information about the commercial, production numbers 
      and information written on film, whether it is on reel with other commercials.
      Copy 2:  shelf no., followed by notes pertaining only to copy 2 (if there are 
      no notes, it can be assumed that there is no difference between copy 1 and copy 2)


Suggested Reading on Television Commercials

1948-1958.  New York:  Hastings House, 1971.

COMMERCIALS.  New York: Harmony Books, 1984.

Himmelstein, Hal.  "Advertising:  The Medium is the Mirage," in TELEVISION MYTH AND
THE AMERICAN MIND.  New York:  Praeger Publishers, 1984.

$UCCE$$FUL TV COMMERCIALS.  Baja California:  The Stephens Press, 1980.

Price, Jonathan.  THE BEST THING ON TV:  COMMERCIALS.  New York:  The Viking
Press, 1978.

AMERICAN MASS MEDIA.  New York:  Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1979.
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  August 31, 2010
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