Trade Catalogs

Trade Catalogs  – A Guide to Architectural Collections

Building Technology Heritage Library  

The BTHL was one of the first collections of period trade catalogs to use the platform of the Internet Archive.  We are not the only one using this great access portal to digital archives.  Several other cultural institutions and private collectors are have now set up trade catalog archives.  Some of these are directly related to the built environment and include topics that would be of interest to the wide range of BTHL users.  Because these topics have their own special “home pages” on the Internet Archive, we are no longer adding these materials to the BTHL, unless they are unique materials that no one else has.  We hope that other institutions take up the task of digitizing trade literature, which usually does not exist in the major library collections that are being digitized.

Architectural Trade Catalogs: Links

            How to find trade catalogs in the Library of Congress

            National Museum of American History Library

            Sears Archive – Homes

Guide to other trade literature collections on the Internet Archive:

Internet Archive “catalogs collection” homepage

The Internet archive has a section for catalogs from a wide variety of sources.  The Building Technology Heritage Library is the first item listed within this interface. 

 Seed Catalogs: 

         Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection (24,572)       

Masonry Tools: 

         Mark Stansbury member  (187)

Guide to Architectural Trade Catalog Collections

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Columbia University
300 Avery
1172 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10027

Tel: 212 854-3501
Email: [email protected]

The Avery collection contains more that 10,000 catalogs in subject areas related to architecture and decorative arts. The collection is fully cataloged and can be searched on-line. The materials are contained in the rare book room of the Avery library and do not circulate.  A majority of the catalogs were converted to microfiche. The microfiche collection is available from several libraries in the U.S. There is a finding aid to the microfiche collection that is maintained at the Avery reference desk.

About the Collection

Search the Collection

Microform Version:
[Architectural trade catalogues from Avery Library, Columbia University]. Edited by Norman A. Ross; introduction by Frank Matero]. Frederick, Md.: UPA Academic Editions, c1989. 3,477 microfiches, ill., 11 x 15 cm.  Titles selected by Herbert Mitchell. Accompanied by printed guide entitled: Guide to Architectural Trade Catalogs from Avery Library, Columbia University.


Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920, rue Baile
Montréal, Québec
H3H 2S6

Tel: 514 939 7026 
Email: [email protected]

The CCA library contains approximately 5,600 trade catalogues documenting building technology and construction methods from the late eighteenth century to the present. Coverage is broad and includes such categories as concrete and lumber, metalwork and woodwork, flooring, heating and insulation, plumbing and electricity, windows and roofing. Approximately 80% of the catalogs are from U.S. companies. The collection is fully cataloged and can be searched on-line. The collection does not circulate.

 About the collection:

 Search the collection:


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Tel: 412.622.3114
Email:  [email protected]

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has between 25,000 and 30,000 trade catalogs in all subject areas.  Architectural and building topics will be represented in multiple categories. The catalogs are shelved alphabetically by company name in the main library building. They are housed in closed stacks, so you will need the assistance of the Reference Services staff on the 2nd floor of the library.  There is no separate category for building construction or architectural topics. There’s exactly one index card that says “Architects’ Materials” which directs the user to “Drawing Materials.”  There are multiple headings for things like andirons, chimneys, clocks, door hangers, door knobs, doors, household appliances, lamps, etc. The subject nomenclature and language is reasonably descriptive for building research but is not consistent with contemporary categories.  There is currently no online or automated finding aid; The collection is indexed on two sets of cards.  One set is arranged alphabetically by company name, and the other by product description. The items do no circulate, but may be photocopied if condition permits.

Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington
400 S. State St.
Chicago IL 60605
Special Collections and Preservation Division, 9th Fl
Neighborhood Research History Collection

Tel:  312 747-4396     

The Chicago Public Library trade catalog collection contains approximately 300 catalogs from Chicago area companies.  Architectural and related products represent approximately one quarter of the collection.  There are a number of large general catalogs such as Sear, Roebuck & Co. and Montgomery Ward and Co., which contain many architectural and decorative arts materials. The collection is not searchable through the libraries on-line catalog.

About the Collection

Search the Collection:
Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington
400 S. State St., 9th Fl
Chicago IL 60605
Special Collections and Preservation Division 
Neighborhood Research History Collection

Cleveland Public Library

325 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH  44114
216-623-2976 fax

Pamela J. Eyerdam
Fine Arts & Special Collections Manager
Cleveland Public Library
325 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH  44114
216-623-2976 fax
[email protected]

The Cleveland Public Library Special Collections Dept has an extensive architectural trade catalog collection. There are over 1000 catalogs from the late 19th to the early 20th century.  From the 1860s thru the 1950s these catalogs cover a range of topics from a variety of manufacturers. Sherwin Williams, du Pont, Pittsburgh Paints, Benjamin Moore, and others show off their latest products from those golden years. There are catalogs of paint and wall paper samples along with the latest in refrigeration, radiators, and stoves from the 1870s on.  Since most of these are "booklet" formats, we categorize the collection.  Attached is a list of categories.

Trade catalog categories (50)         June 2010
Architectural ornament, decoration and sculpture (o48164807)
Art, craft, and drafting supplies (o49498140)
Assembly seating for public buildings (o50500177)
Automatic machinery (o51319502)
Bank vaults (o50502571)
Bathroom fixtures and furnishings (o49321643)
Builders and building supplies (o48113408)
Ceilings (o48158805)
Church furnishings and equipment (o51319760)
Electrical equipment, supplies and companies (o48861359)
Farm buildings, structures, and equipment (o49537143)
Fences and fencing (o48165306)
Fireplaces and fireplace equipment (o48149008)
Furniture and furniture trimmings (o48623710)
Glass buildings and glass building materials (o50750008)
Hand powered hoisting machinery (o48167115)
Hardware products (o48167115)
Headstones, mausoleums, and accessories (o50499710)
Heaters and heating (o48527060)
Home appliances (o48116218)
Hospital and laboratory furniture and equipment (o49216293)
Industrial chemicals (o51319115)
Ironwork and brasswork (o48155318)
Keyboard instruments (o51319700)
Kitchen decoration and cabinets (o49883037)
Lamps and lighting fixtures (o48813681)
Library supplies and equipment (o51319430)
Mail-order companies (o48117323)
Millwork and associated wooden building materials (o48148893)
Office furniture and equipment (o50991140)
Outdoor structures and furniture (o49898932)
Paint, paint tools and other paint products (o48167011)
Pigments and dyes (o49644729)
Pipe, pipe supplies and drain tile (o48157451)
Plaster, stucco and drywall (o48158733)
Plumbing supplies (o48157524)
Printing inks (o51319262)
Retail and commercial establishment fixtures (o49208676)
Rubber products (o51318910)
Rugs and tapestry (o48155244)
School furniture and equipment (o50950049)
Structural steel building materials (o50881398)
The flooring industry (o48118762)
The meat products industry (o48116052)
The novelties and decorations industry (o48116147)
Tinners and roofers supplies (o48156117)
Wallpaper and wall coverings (o48755702)
Window screens and screen doors (o48167214)
Window treatments (o48117243)
Windows and window glass (o49849216)

To search the collection, use the online catalog Keyword search with the topic category and word "trade catalog".   This will produce a list of the catalogs within each of the fifty categories above. The collection does not circulate but you can request scans through Interlibrary Loan or send us a request through our Special Collections email -- if you simply want to request some information just send an email as well to Special Collections   [email protected]

Hagley Museum and Library
Hagley Rd  (PO Box 3630)
Wilmington, DE 19807

Contact Info:
Imprints Collection, Main Library
Tel: (302) 658-3690
Email: [email protected]

The Hagley Museum and Library has a collection of 25,000 trade catalogs as a resource for understanding America's commercial, technological, and industrial development. The collection has a great amount of materials in the areas of architecture and decorative arts that are useful for historic restorations and artifact identification. The collection is fully cataloged and can be searched on-line. A microfiche version of the collection was created in 1989. The items do not circulate.

 About the Collection:

Search the Collection:

Microform Version:
Hagley Museum and Library. Trade Catalogs from the Hagley Museum and Library: Transportation. Frederick, Md.: UPA Academic Editions, c1989. 904 microfiches, ill. 

Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Thomas Jefferson Bldg, LJ 100
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660

Telephone: (202) 707-3399

The Library of Congress has a representative collection of trade catalogs that are dispersed throughout the general collections. The catalogs are listed in the card catalog under many different headings, not always consistent with contemporary nomenclature.  Users interested in accessing them must resort to several strategies in order to find them. There is an excellent overview of how to find these materials on the Library of Congress web site (     

About the Collection:

Search the collection:

Northwest Architectural Archive of the Univ. of Minnesota

213 Andersen Library
222 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Cheryl Fong
Email: [email protected]

The Northwest Architectural Archive library has a collection of 7,000 trade publications in the areas of architecture and related aspects of the building arts and trades. An extremely wide range of products is represented in the literature, including linoleum, plumbing and heating fixtures, structural steel, millwork, lighting systems (both gas and electric), construction machinery, greenhouses, metal ceilings, office furniture, prefabricated buildings, doors, windows, household appliances and bank vaults, among many others.  In addition to the trade catalog collection, the Northwest Archive has a Stock Plan Book Collection containing about 400 published compendia of plans for houses, commercial structures, garages, churches, small stores, lake cabins, and farm buildings from the same period. The collection is arranged alphabetically by author/publisher.

The Northwest Archive also contains the company records of the American Terra Cotta Company. The collection contains shop drawings from the American, Midland, Indianapolis and Winkle Terra Cotta Companies, along with photographs, negatives, order books and indexes. The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Statler Gilfillen; published as "The American Terra Cotta Index," 1972.

Finding Aid for the Trade Catalog Collection

Finding Aid for the Stock Plan Catalog Collection:

Philadelphia Athenaeum

219 S. Sixth Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-3794

Tel: (215) 925-2688
Email: [email protected]

The Philadelphia Athenaeum trade catalog collection consists of approximately 2,000 items. The holdings are particularly strong in areas such as paint colors, lighting fixtures, wallpaper, heating and kitchen equipment, plumbing, and household furniture. Internal finding aids are available. Most of the trade catalogue holdings have been entered into the RLIN system and Athena, the Athenaeum’s online catalogue.

About the Collection:

Search the on-line catalog


Angelo State University
2601 W. Avenue N
San Angelo TX 76909   

Contact:  Suzanne Campbell, Head, West Texas Collection
Tel: 325-942-2164
Email: [email protected]

About the West Texas Collection

Gerron S. Hite Collection, West Texas Collection, Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX
In this collection there are several photographs from the Tom Green County area along with a document from a local business. Photographs include the Water Valley School House (1903-1904) and the Carlsbad Inn (1908). There is also a very large photograph of San Angelo from the view of the Oaks Street Bridge. Also, information on adobe construction.  Boxes 6-18 Contain Catalogs, pictures of fences, letters, etc. on U.S. companies that manufacture fences and supplies dating back to late 1890’s.

National Building Arts Center
2300 Falling Springs Road
Sauget IL 62206

Contact: Larry Giles
Phone: 314-773-2264 
Email: [email protected]

The St. Louis Architectural Art Company library consists of some 30,000 books, manuscripts, periodicals and trade catalogs relating to architecture and the allied arts in addition to thousands of drawings and photographs. The collection is particularly strong in topics related to masonry and terra cotta construction.

 About the collection

About the Research Library

Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington DC

Tel:  202-633-3865
E-mail: [email protected]

The Smithsonian Institution, primarily in the library of the National Museum of American History has more than 40,000 trade catalogs. The collection is stronger in the areas of technology, industry and agriculture than it is architectural and decorative arts. Trade catalog subject areas include air conditioning, boilers and heating, but there is no specific subject area for architectural and building supplies. Within the broad category of “Equipment and Supplies” there are subheadings for bathrooms and fireplaces. The library’s collection can be searched through the on-line catalog.     

About the Collection

Search the collection

Smithsonian Libraries trade catalog materials online

Paint  (22)[]=subject%3A%22Paint%22

Decoration and Ornament (89)[]=subject%3A%22Decoration%20and%20ornament%22

Architecture  (74)[]=subject%3A%22Architecture%22

 Interior Decoration (27)[]=subject%3A%22Interior%20decoration%22


Sydney Living Museums: Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection
Sidney Living Museums
10 MacQuarie Street
Sydney, NSW 2000

The Sydney Living Museums cares for a group of 12 of the most important historic houses, gardens and museums in New South Wales Australia.  Their research collection includes more than 2,500 trade catalogs of architectural, gardening and home furnishings.  They have started to digitize some of these material, which are shared on the Internet Archive.

General web site:

Research Collection web link:          

Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection on the Internet Archive:


Trade Catalogs and the American Home
Adam Mathews Digital: A SAGE Company
Pelham House, Pelhams Court
London Road
Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2AG
United Kingdom       

Adams Mathews Digital is a provider of primary source research materials that serve a broad variety of research interests.  The archival materials are drawn from leading archives and libraries around the world.  The collection of Trade Catalogs and the American Home come from the collections of the University of California at Santa Barbara (the Romaine collection), the Winterthur Library and the Hagley Museum and Library. The collection emphasis domesticity, daily life, consumerism and technology in America between 1850-1950.

Tulane University:  Southeastern Architectural Archive
Special Collections
Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
7001 Freret St. 
New Orleans, LA 70118

Contact:  Kevin Williams, Archivist, Southeastern Architectural Archive
[email protected]

The Southeastern Architectural Archive preserves and collects trade catalogs associated with architecture and building professions. The architectural trade catalog collection contains about 1,500 items.  A full list is available on line. The nucleus of the SEAA's trade catalog collection came directly from architects practicing in the New Orleans metropolitan area who received them in the course of doing business. In the summer of 2014, the Assoc. for Preservation Technology digitized 720 documents from this collection and placed them on the Building Technology Heritage Library.

About the Collection:

Collection Finding Aid:


University of California at Santa Barbara
Donald C. Davidson Library
Dept. of Special Collections
Santa Barbara CA 93106

Phone (805) 893-3420

University of California at Santa Barbara (USCB) library contains a trade catalog collection of more than 41,000 catalogs assembled by Lawrence Romaine.  Approximately one quarter, or more than 10,000 of these catalogs relate to architectural and decorative arts topics. Romaine’s Guide to American Trade Catalogs: 1744 – 1900 published in 1960 was a primary reference for trade catalogs in the pre-Internet era. The UCSB collection is still arranged along the lines of Romaine's Guide. These materials were cataloged as a separate collection, with access via subject or name of company. Subjects are arranged alphabetically; with box numbers beginning anew for each subject/category. Many subjects have been further divided into categories, frequently arranged alphabetically. Arrangement and box numbers have been retained as found since they are embedded in the existing box-level cataloging records. As a result, similar materials or materials from a given company sometimes are found in more than one box, and in other cases apparently dissimilar materials may be located within a given box.  There is an on-line finding aid to the subject categories, but the individual catalogs have not been indexed and are not searchable via the on-line library catalog.

About the Collection:

Search the Collection: (List of subject categories only)


Winterthur Museum & Country Estate
Route 52
(5105 Kennett Pike)
Winterthur DE 19735

Tel:  302.888.4634
Email: [email protected]org

The Winterthur collection brings together some 3,200 trade catalogs spanning the years 1750 to 1980. Organized in 30 topical sections from agricultural implements and machinery to wall and floor coverings, the collection will serve historic preservationists, historical archaeologists, historians of technology, and social historians as well as students of the decorative arts in America. Within each topical section, the catalogs are arranged alphabetically by manufacturers, with dates given in order. The collection was converted to microfiche in 1989. The collection has been fully cataloged and can be searched on-line. The materials do not circulate. A large number (approx. 1,000) of the furniture catalogs have been digitized and placed on the Internet Archive.

About the Collection:

Search the collection:

Winterthur Furniture Catalogs on the Internet Archive

Microform Version:
Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. Trade Catalogues at Winterthur. Frederick, Md.: Clearwater Pub. Co., c1989. About 3,000 microfiches, ill. 
Printed guide: E. Richard McKinstry, comp., Trade Catalogues at Winterthur: A Guide to the Literature of Merchandising, 1750 to 1880
Printed guide: Eleanor McD. Thompson, comp., Trade Catalogues at the Winterthur Museum Part II.