Victorians for sale! Has advertising changed from Victorian times?
This collection of Victorian advertisements is aimed at any teacher or student engaged in a local study of the Victorian period. The sources could be used to help provide a sense of period and show pupils the type of source material they might find in their local archive, museum or record office. The collection could be used alongside the Victorian lives collection on this website to give further insight into the Victorian home life.
The adverts show, to some extent, how and who might have cleaned the home, how the Victorians had fun and how some products were sold. There are also questions with a specific literary focus on the language of advertising included here. The entire collection plus transcripts can be downloaded as a zip file, to make them easy for you to use in the classroom.
These documents can be used alongside our interactive Victorians website which also contains a huge number of sources on the period from The National Archives and objects from Victoria and Albert Museum. It would be helpful for the pupils to watch the opening video in Start here on our Victorians website before looking at the sources to get the most out of the questions and activities as well as looking at general guidance questions below on how to evaluate and understand documents.
- What type of document is it? (letter, report, photograph or newspaper)
- Can you find a date?
- What is the document saying?
- Check the meaning of any words you are unsure about
- What names appear in the document?
- Does the document show the writer’s opinions/values?
- Are there any clues about the intended audience for the document?
- Why was the document written?
- Does it have any limitations?
- Does it link to other documents in the group?
- Does it share the same ideas, attitudes and arguments?
- How would you explain any differences between these documents?
Teachers may want to break their class up into groups and get students to feed back on a selection of documents and/or annotate them at the white board. Others may wish to introduce pupils to these documents to create a wider enquiry question of their own, for example on the role of women, domestic service, consumer culture and so on.
Alternatively, teachers may wish to use the collection to develop their own resources or encourage students to ‘curate’ their own ‘exhibition’ of the most significant sources on the Victorian period.
Finally, for more suggestions on how to carry out a local study use our video guidance in the Victorians website.
- Historical Directories
An online library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919
- The Visual Arts
Find out more about Victorian art and design and other aspects of the Victorian period
- Find an archive