Using Historical Adverts in Education
When you think about sources, you think about serious things like documents, maps, and photographs of important people in suits and ties…
But if you look into historical Jewish newspapers, you can find unexpected treasures – advertisements!
What can we gain by using advertisements?
By looking at historical advertisements you can catch a first-hand glimpse into the day-to-day lives of people from the past. Comparisons of advertisements from the past and those we see nowadays are intriguing and often even amusing.
The advertisements are usually small items that are targeted and visual. They reflect the physical reality as well as the spirit of the time in which they were published, and even the hopes and social and moral values of those times, shedding light on economic and commercial trends, technology and society. Similarly, advertisements can provide interesting and important information about the advertisers, the products that they were trying to market, the technology and the materials that they used and the manner in which the general public used the product.
Questions for Discussion and Analysis of Advertisements
When analyzing advertisements, it is important to pay attention to the following elements:
Is the product or event in the advertisement still being marketed today?
Compare the advertising methods from the past with those used today. Consider the graphic elements, text and marketing tools.
What does the advertisement say about the product?
What does the advertisement say about the advertiser?
Who is the target audience for the advertisement?
Does the advertisement contain any unfamiliar content or terms? How can we understand their meaning?
Where can we find advertisements?
The National Library and Tel Aviv University have a website for historical Jewish newspapers that includes historical Jewish newspapers from the mid 19th century up until today. The newspapers were published in different languages and present a wide and varying range of opinions and political positions. Among the historical newspapers in the database you will be able to find papers such as: “HaMagid”, “Hamlitz”,“HaHavatzelet”,“HaPoel HaTzair”, “Herut”, “HaTzofe”, “Ma’ariv”, “HaZvi”, The Palestine Post, and more.
Look through the various newspapers. You will almost always be able to find advertisements within the pages for things such as cultural and other events, sporting events, craftsmanship and for consumer goods. As remains true today, most of the advertisements appear in the last pages of the newspaper.
Suggestion for Activities
During history lessons, when learning about a certain period, there is nothing better than presenting the period with an activity that makes use of advertisements.
Start the lesson with a short description of the time period.
Present one advertisement to the class. Analyze the advertisement with the students using the questions we have provided for you here.
Present the “Historical Jewish Newspapers” website to the students and demonstrate how they can find advertisements that fit with the period in history they are learning about.
Each student will find an advertisement, write about it and answer the advertisement analysis questions that appear above.
The students’ answers can be organized on a website, in a presentation or on a poster.