Fascinating Mad Men-Era Advertisements

By Anne Garner, Curator, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

This is part of an intermittent series of blogs featuring advertisements found in our collection. You can find the entire series here.

In American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 83, no. 3 (1962).

In American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 83, no. 3 (1962).

Nobody conjures the ’60s better than Matthew Weiner and the writers, designers, and stylists of AMC’s Mad Men. We’ll miss the quotidian details: the trash left behind at the Draper family picnic, that unbelievable maternity dress of Trudy’s, the choking smoke of Mohawk’s planes, Metro-North’s trains, and Don’s automobiles. When Sally Draper puts a plastic dry-cleaning bag over her head and her mother scolds her—not out of fear for her safety and only for dumping her dry-cleaning on the floor—we’re gob-smacked. These moments crystallize the seismic shifts that have occurred in cultural expectations over the last fifty years.

The Academy Library has strong holdings in the major journals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Journals were then, as they are now, the primary place of publication for innovations and discoveries. In addition, the advertisements aimed at the professional readers of these journals offer insights into changing cultural beliefs. Most libraries excised the advertisements, especially if they were gathered in a separate section of the journal. The Academy tradition was to keep the advertising, and these ads are now heavily used by historians.

The images and texts in these advertisements provide artists, writers, and historians with richly-textured cultural context. There is much to be learned, for example, from looking at the way antidepressants were marketed to women in the twentieth century, at the early advertisements for the birth control pill, and at tobacco advertising aimed directly at physicians as consumers.  Here, a look at a Flavorwire piece we wrote using ads entirely from our collections and relating them to Mad Men.

Creepy Historical Drawings of Skeletons Contemplating Mortality

By Anne Garner, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Surgite mortui, et venite ad judicium (Arise, ye dead, and come to the judgment). Table 6. Click to enlarge.

Jacques Gamelin. Nouveau recueil d’osteologie. “Surgite mortui, et venite ad judicium (Arise, ye dead, and come to the judgment).” Table 6. Click to enlarge.

One of the greatest pleasures of the vast library collections of the New York Academy of Medicine lies in browsing our fascinating treasury of anatomical atlases and smaller format illustrations of the human body. From early attempts by anatomists like Dryander and Hundt, who depicted the body diagrammatically, to the Baroque and fantastic skeletons of the French anatomist Jacques Gamelin, almost two hundred fifty years later, these illustrations are not only visually transfixing, but offer tantalizing visual evidence of the progress made in understanding and depicting the way the body works. Chief among these milestone illustrations stands the monumental work of Vesalius, whose skeletons and muscle men changed the way the human body was drawn forever in 1543.

In this slide show hosted by Flavorwire, we’ve assembled some of our favorite images by pioneering anatomical illustrators. In honor of Halloween, we’re highlighting skeletons with a gleam in their eyes, a scowl on their faces, and a spring in their step, for optimal thrills and chills.