Agricultural Machinery Advertising Literature to be Digitized

The Digital Initiatives Program has started a major project to digitize agricultural product literature from around the country. The Agricultural Machinery Product Literature digital collection documents not only what are now antique tractors, plows, fertilizers, threshers, and other machinery when they were new and leading-edge, but also the marketing, design, and industry which produced and sold them. Covering over 150 years of agricultural machinery from before the industrial revolution through the 20th century, the literature documents crucial periods in the history of United States agriculture.

The ultimate goal is to digitize the majority of the Lawrence H. Skromme Agricultural Machinery Literature Collection, housed in the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives. The project will be completed in several phases over the next few years because of the collection’s large size, and additional materials from throughout the library will likely be added in the future.

The digitized literature contains a rich documentation of themes including farming practices, material culture, agriculture industry advertising techniques, mechanical engineering, birth of the industrial revolution, and marketing and design. The collection consists of catalogs, trade cards, price lists, and other advertising products for agricultural implements and machinery from dozens of manufacturing companies. Digitizing these materials makes this extensive collection available to a larger audience. Usually spread over wide distances in museums, the online collection provides worldwide access to the variety of American farm machinery and implements used for over 150 years.

For additional information, contact Laura Sullivan.