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 our Victorian Lives collection to give further insight into the Victorian home life.
These adverts explore how the Victorians cleaned their homes, what they ate and drank, how they had fun, and how they advertised the products they sold.
It would be useful for pupils to watch the Start Here video in our Victorians website before looking at the sources to get the most out of the questions and activities as well as looking at the general guidance questions below on how to evaluate and understand documents. Also included here are some questions with a specific literary focus on the language of advertising. Transcripts are also provided where necessary.
- 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 adverts and/or annotate them at the white board. Others may wish to engage pupils with these documents for an enquiry question on a particular theme, for example on the role of women, domestic service, food and drink or consumer culture.
Teachers can 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. We have created a lesson based on seven of these advertisements from this collection to demonstrate how the sources could be used in a flexible lesson activity.
Finally, for suggestions on how to carry out a local study use our video guidance in the Victorians website.
- The Visual Arts
Find out more about Victorian art and design and other aspects of the Victorian period
- Find an archive