22 January 2018    Raz Khan writes:

It’s very interesting how important nomenclature can be, especially when you move into an area outside of your personal expertise. When we first started looking for a system to house our archive, our searches kept presenting us with document management systems, which are aimed at companies who digitise all their paperwork, and happen to be extremely expensive.

It was only when we stumbled across library management in an alternative search that we discovered a whole new world, and of course, like any discovery, it seemed so obvious in retrospect. There are many individuals and organisations holding small specialist archives who want to make them available to the wider world via the internet. After some investigation of the field we settled on a product called ContentDM from OCLC, the Online Computer Library Centre. It offers an excellent starting point for our archive and is very competitively priced.

The online archive complements our physical archive of materials held at The History of Advertising Trust (HAT) in Norfolk. Interested people can visit HAT to see the original documents and enjoy the feel and smell of old (and not so old) paper. However the online archive can help users understand what we have and identify documents of interest. In many cases we have the complete documents scanned but for copyrighted items such as books and some journals we are only permitted to scan the cover and contents pages. In such cases the originals can be studied at HAT.

Thanks to our brilliant team of scanners we now have a large number of documents online. These include MORI’s British Public Opinion, a fascinating record of political polling, and the key MRS publications: Survey, The MRS Newsletter and Research Magazine.

The documents are scanned for text as part of the publication process so you can search the archive and it will present items that contain your search. While it might seem frivolous you can search for yourself and see the articles you may have had published, the job changes you made and the adverts in which you were mentioned. It can provide a fascinating timeline.

However the archive will more likely be of benefit to those looking to investigate the development of techniques (read Barry Leventhal’s article on the Geodemographics section to see how this now widely accepted technique was quite controversial at the time) or those who want to understand how the industry developed. I doubt anyone in the 1950s anticipated the global players that now exist, or the broader footprint that insight now encompasses.

So please feel free to look at our online archive and see how far it has come; it will continue to grow as we collect material in the months and years to come. And of course please send us your feedback to help us improve what we’re offering.

The archive can be seen at https://amsr.contentdm.oclc.org.

Please send any feedback to admin@amsr.org.uk.