Are you researching a topic related to business, trade, patents, advertising, etc.? If so, then you’ll find many useful resources at the National Archives. Some of our record groups and series that relate to these topics include:









Beyond the available federal records, though, there may be records held at the state or local level or held at a private institution that prove useful to your research. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) | National Archives has awarded digitization grants to several organizations across the United States that hold such records, and many of those digital collections are available online for researchers to use freely.


Here are some of the digital collections related to business, trade, patents, and advertising in America that were made possible by NHPRC grant funding:


  • The California State Archives has digitized its collection of “Trademark Registrations and Specimens, Old Series, 1861-1900.” Some examples from the collection include: “Levi Strauss & Co. jeans, early California wineries' bottle labels, Kentucky bourbon distilleries labels, 19th century medicines and tonics, and the original trademark registered to Anheuser Busch for its Budweiser lager.” To read more about the project and to browse the scanned images, visit their website:


  • The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History (AARL), which is part of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS) worked with the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), in order to digitize some of their collections that “document the role of African Americans in the development of educational institutions during a pivotal time in the history of race relations in the United States (1860 - 1950).” The records are primarily organizational and personal papers, and include advertisements, articles, broadsides, catalogs, ephemera, invitations, journals, leaflets, correspondence, photographs, and programs.” To find out more, visit their website:


  • Duke University digitized thousands of photographs and slides to add to their ROAD (Resource of Outdoor Advertising Description) database. The images are primarily of billboards, and they “document changes not only in advertising but also in the American landscape.” Check out the collection here:




For more information about digital projects funded by the NHPRC's digitization grants, see these posts:

Records about American Cities - Digitization Projects Funded by the NHPRC

Civil War Records - Digitization Projects Supported by the NHPRC

Digitization Projects Made Possible by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)