Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Stewart Culin (1858-1929) was an American ethnographer and author interested in games, art and dress. Born in Philadelphia to John and Mina Barrett Daniel Culin, he was educated at the Nazareth Hall boarding school in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Before truly beginning his career, Culin displayed traits of a good anthropologist, collecting data on human behavior, in particular trade and advertising. Between 1884 and 1886, Culin assembled a collection of advertisements related to businesses and products largely located and sold in Philadelphia. Although never a professionally-trained anthropologist, Culin continued to work in the field. In 1889, Culin read a paper on dice games played by Philadelphia's Chinese American laborers to fellow members of the Oriental Club of Philadelphia, of which Culin was a founder. The following year he published an article on Italian marionettes in the Journal of American Folklore, inspired by an encounter with a Sicilian puppeteer troupe in New York. Over the course of the 1890s and early 1900s, Culin pursued his interest in gaming across cultures, publishing papers on street games played by boys in Brooklyn, African mancala games, and the games of American Indians, native Hawaiians, and native Filippinos. Working within the theoretical framework of cultural diffusionism developed by Leo Frobenius and Franz Boas, Culin believed that similarities in gaming across cultures demonstrated contact and diffusion of ideas and culture among peoples across the world. From 1892 to 1903, he served as director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Paleontology (the present-day Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology). In 1893, he presented and published on the gaming exposition at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. There he met fellow anthropologist and ethnologist Frank Hamilton Cushing, with whom Culin endeavored to create the world's first exhaustive documentation on gaming. Culin became curator of ethnography at the Brooklyn Museum in 1903. In this capacity, he undertook several collection expeditions to the Southwest for Native American artifacts. In addition to gaming, in 1907 Culin became interested in fashion, furniture, costumes, and related paraphernalia as decorative art, using his position as curator to display them and encourage interest in fashion design. He died having elevated the study of games and the decorative arts to academic respect.
The Stewart Culin collection of advertisements consists of handbills, broadsides, and advertisement cards collected by American ethnographer Stewart Culin between May 1884 and February 1886. The advertisements are primarily for products produced and/or sold in Philadelphia, services offered in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia businesses and companies, although some advertisements for businesses in New York, Chicago, Atlantic City and elsewhere are present. Types of firms and products advertised include public dining rooms, cigarettes and cigars, groceries and foodstuffs, apothecaries, health and cleaning supplies, clothiers, travel and transport services, theater shows and public exhibitions. The collection comprises two scrapbooks and a set of loose advertisements which may have fallen out of, been purposefully excised from, or otherwise omitted from the scrapbooks.
The collection is divided into two series, Scrapbooks and Loose advertisements. Scrapbooks consists of two large volumes. The advertisements are pasted down on both sides of each leaf, with one or more advertisements per page, depending upon the size of each ad. Occasionally there is evidence of an ad that has since fallen out or been removed. The advertisements in both volumes are pasted in chronological order. The first volume contains advertisements from May through December of 1884. The second volume features advertisements from September 1885 to February 1886. The intervening months (January to August 1885) are tentatively covered by the contents of Loose advertisements. Of the 93 items in this series, some feature dates between January and August of 1885. However, since not all are dated, this series has been organized according to subject rather than chronology. The items are grouped into eight subseries: Customer services and consumer products, Entertainment and public events, Foodstuffs and ingredients, Household goods, Laundry and cleaning supplies, Personal clothing and accessories, Pharmaceuticals, and Tobacco products. Occasionally an advertisement will be fragmentary or have a portion of another ad pasted to its back. When this occurs, both advertisements are described in the item-level entry.
This is a detailed collection of commercial art from two years of the late 19th century. Due to its eclectic nature it may be of incidental value to researchers, rather than serving as a single source of information. However, the wide variety of products and services represented offer multiple entry points. The collection may be of great interest to researchers in the commercial and social history of Philadelphia, commercial art, 19th century advertising techniques and commercial culture, and historical business maps of the city. Indeed, many of the advertisements contain addresses, so a portion of the business-scape of Center City Philadelphia circa 1884-86 could be virtually reconstructed from this collection. Since this collection immediately predates Culin's first lecture to the Oriental Club, it is an invaluable insight into his early interests.
Gift of Stewart Culin, 1913.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Kevin Stuart Lee
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 June 25
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for researchers to use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.