Guide to the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Dry Goods
Digitized Content

Collection ID:
Warshaw, Isadore, d. 1969
Physical Description:
37.8 Cubic feet
consisting of 76 boxes (including 12 off-site), 12 folders, 16 oversize folders, 7 flat boxes (6 full, 1 partial), plus digital images of some collection material.
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Dry Goods forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This material consists primarily of scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, bills/receipts, printed advertisements, trade catalogs, handbills, pamphlets, advertising cards , photographs, cloth samples , leaflets, books, prospectus, order forms, chromolithographs, magazine advertisements, seals, postcards, business cards, children's books, greeting cards, almanacs, calendars, cardboard standups, fans, paper bag samples and import/export documents from businesses referred to loosely as department or variety stores. A number of these stores are still in business and tend to have a substantial amount of material . Such companies include I. Magnin, R. H. Macy, Woodward & Lothrop, F. H. Woolworth's, Sears, Roebuck & Company , Montgomery Wards, Wanamaker, etc. There are a few references to businesses who imported English, French, German, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Sudanese, Persian and Moorish articles.
Generally the stores included among these materials sold a variety of products consisting of clothing and clothing accessories, home furnishings, home construction kits, novelties, stationery , groceries and a number of other products sold in contemporary department and variety stores. There are also companies that specialized in a particular product or type of product. Researchers interested in these businesses should also consult the same subject category if it is included on the listing of vertical document boxes. It is also possible that if the company produced oversize catalogs these would be listed with the Warshaw Collection oversize materials. For example, there are a number of Montgomery Wards, Butler Brothers, Bellas Hess and Company and Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogs found among the oversize materials.
There are a number of images that appear on these materials. Most of these images tend to be illustrations of the exterior or interior departments of the stores . Product illustrations also appear throughout the catalogues, printed advertisements and price lists. Ethnic images particularly in French advertisements also appear regularly. Dry goods stores relied heavily on advertisements directed toward children especially during the Christmas/holiday season. Books for children illustrating characters from favorite stories or Christmas scenes are common among the larger stores namely Woodward & Lothrop.
Materials in boxes one through thirty-nine are organized by name of company. Publications that discuss the history of a particular company are included with the company related materials. Catalogues , calendars , almanacs and price lists are generally listed under the company name in the finding aid with dates . This is due to the fact that these materials are often requested by researchers in this manner. This does not imply that these are the only materials for that particular company in the folders .
Box thirty-nine is also partially arranged by type including patents, stocks , general images, associations and miscellaneous items. A few related publications such as a chain store bibliography and a book on the history of chain stores are also included.
Boxes forty and forty-one contain periodicals created by W. A. Spelman in New York. Published as a trade journal devoted to the interests of the retail merchants, it was primarily meant to aid the subscriber in meeting the increasing competition in the dry goods trade. It was also meant to guide merchants in the purchase of goods. Referred to as The Fancy Goods Graphic or Spelman's Fancy Goods Graphic, these publications date from 1881-1890 .
Import and export documents are found in boxes forty-one, through forty-three.
The processing of additional materials in 2017 integrated a significant volume of material, most notably the Jermain Business and Family papers and to a lesser extent, the Trimble Family Business records. Both offer insight to the operations of 19th Century family businesses. Also added was significant manuscript on the history of Montgomery Ward is also available.
Catalogues, especially thinner circular type editions have not been consolidated and may be found throughout the material in this collection. However there are several groupings listed in the Catalogue series, especially for regular issue bulky catalogues published by Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck and Company. See note regarding some items that have been microfilmed or transferred off-site.

Dry Goods is arranged in two subseries.
    Business Records and Marketing Material
  • General, including Accounting Books and Ledgers
  • Companies and Proprietors
  • Companies and Proprietors, Oversize Material
  • Trade Literature and Other
  • Export/Import Records
  • Jermain Business and Family Papers; plus associated Albany Records
  • Montgomery Ward History Manuscripts
  • Trimble Family Business Records
  • General, Marketing Material
  • General and Mail Order
  • Montgomery Ward
  • Sears, Roebuck and Company
  • Assorted [Off-Site, including Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company]

Processing Information
In 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History implemented the use of minimal level processing standards to increase information about and facilitate access to more of our collections.
Arrangement and housing (box and folder) was previously completed by the Archives Center Staff in conjunction with the development of the original guide. Non-archival housing was replaced for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.
There is no Box 45. Boxes 46-57 are off-site and were not physically assessed in the 2017 processing effort but the contents list from the original inventory were encoded and included in the EAD finding aid.
For all other boxes and oversize material, folder contents were verified, the scope and content note was enhanced, folder-level description was completed. Some rehousing and a small amount of arrangement was done on select portions of the main content of this subject. A significant amount of additional material was processed and added to this subject as a result of the 2016/17 minimal level processing effort. A machine-readable, encoded finding aid was created by Nicole Blechynden, 2017 August.
Processing Information
In 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History implemented the use of minimal level processing standards to increase information about and facilitate access to more of our collections. A large portion of stored material from the original acquisition received minimal level processing, which resulted in additions to this Subject category. This effort included basic arrangement and replacement of non-archival housing for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed. Revisions to the encoded finding aid were made to reflect the added content in context to the previously processed material.
Minimal level processing and enhancement of the machine-readable finding aid completed by Nicole Blechynden, September 2017.
Nicole Blechynden and Vanessa Broussard-Simmons
Funding for partial processing of the collection was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Dry Goods is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Dry Goods, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research. Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs are restricted due to fragile condition. Researchers should consult microfilm in NMAH library for 1880-1983 editions, drawer 692. Some additional items may be restricted due to fragile condition. Off-site materials must be requested in advance. Consult Archives Staff.
Conditions Governing Use note
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Materials in the Archives Center
Materials in the Archives Center
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)

Forms Part Of
Forms Part Of

Other Finding Aids
Other Finding Aids
The former inventory remains available for reference purposes as it contains detailed company name lists for Boxes 1-57 and oversize materials.
Information for the additional collection material is only available in the current guide. NOTE: there may be slight variances in the box and folder numbers between the old inventory link above and the current online finding aid. Please refer to the August 2017 finding aid Contents/Container List when making materials requests.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ephemera Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business ephemera Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012