Automotive Collection Development

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Hagley Library holds a marvelous collection of automobile trade literature. Our Z. Taylor Vinson Collection of Transportation Ephemera contains trade catalogs for virtually every make and model of automobile ever produced, from 1893 to 2010. Given such a wealth of content, how does Hagley Library move forward to strengthen its automotive holdings still further?

One big move was to capitalize on an opportunity to acquire the John Margolies Collection of Travel Ephemera in 2017. This collection of ephemera was assembled by John Margolies as he traveled the country photographing and documenting American roadside businesses and attractions. The materials document the history of business and industry on the highways, backroads, and Main Streets of America since the development of the automobile in the early nineteen hundreds through the twentieth century.

So, the makes and models of automobiles are covered, as are roadside attractions. But we are always on the lookout to purchase individual publications, especially trade catalogs, that can add research value in areas where our holdings could still be improved. Purchased automotive items of note include:

Red Seal Tents and Auto Beds, 1926. ​

Have a new car? Why not get out and see the country? Auto camping was an early phenomenon during the history of the automobile, and Red Seal tents and auto beds were marketed to take advantage of this trend.

Hand book on the operations of motor cars and motor boats, [1909].

What’s old is new...this early handbook by Lawrence Washington guided the owners of battery-powered cars on how to keep their vehicles running properly.

New Moon: Planning Guide for Mobile Living, 1953.

If an auto tent is not your cup of tea, why not try a recreational vehicle? How about one promoted by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, no less?

These and many more fascinating automotive publications await at Hagley Library. Buckle up as we continue to search for more collecting opportunities!

Max Moeller is the Curator of Published Collections at Hagley Museum and Library.​