The Dartmouth College Collection of Television Commercials
Compiled by Karen C. Lund
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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; National Audio-Visual Conservation Center; 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; National Audio-Visual Conservation Center; 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 184.108.40.206. It is also available through the LC Marvel Campus-Wide
Information System when the following series of headings are chosen
Once users have entered any one of the last four choices, they can
start searching MUMS for
- Library of Congress Online Systems
- ****Connect to LOCIS (Public Users--No Password Needed)
- Library of Congress Catalog (Option 1 under LOCIS; Library
of Congress Information System)
- Select Any One of Choices 1, 3, 4, or 5
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.
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
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
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
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)
Diamant, Lincoln. TELEVISION'S CLASSIC COMMERCIALS: THE GOLDEN YEARS,
1948-1958. New York: Hastings House, 1971.
Hall, Jim. MIGHTY MINUTES: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF TELEVISION'S BEST
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.
McMahan, Harry Wayne. COMMUNICATION & PERSUASION: A HARD LOOK AT
$UCCE$$FUL TV COMMERCIALS. Baja California: The Stephens Press, 1980.
Price, Jonathan. THE BEST THING ON TV: COMMERCIALS. New York: The Viking
Wright, John W., ed. THE COMMERCIAL CONNECTION: ADVERTISING AND THE
AMERICAN MASS MEDIA. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1979.