University of Wisconsin-Madison has launched HADES (Health Advertisements Database from Ebling Sources)

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Ebling Library for the Health Sciences, in collaboration with University of Wisconsin’s Digital Collection (UWDC) has launched HADES, (Health Advertisements Database from Ebling Sources) which consists of advertisements from health sciences journals covering the disciplines of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, hospital management, laboratory management, and the allied health sciences from 1923 to 2007. From small quarter page ads to full page drug ads, which often include the pharmaceutical indications, these advertisements offer a window into the clinical, social, economic, political, historical, legal, and cultural aspects of health care for several decades. Generally, from the United States, they also include British, French, German, and some non-European publishers.
While offering a lens into the evolution of various specialties, like surgery, anesthesiology, gynecology, public health, infectious diseases, pathology and obstetrics, the advertisements also represent the evolution of the technology used to produce the type and illustrations. From hand lettering to typewriter fonts to computer generated typefaces, graphic images abound. From commissioned artist paintings for pharmaceutical companies, to high end photographic images, the researchers can see the visual culture surrounding, for example, the portrayal of practitioners and patients within the health care setting.
The textual promotion of a drug, technology, surgical suture, or laboratory rat chow inevitably centers itself in the era it is created in-for example, the WWII era ads for penicillin include images and reference to military language and events, making the advertising “copy” as reveling as the images themselves.
The advertisements were collected during Ebling Library's Transformation Project, when the majority of print journals from Ebling were moved to consortium libraries, or off-site storage, or removed because there was a digital copy available through a vendor's database. Librarian, Micaela Sullivan-Fowler, established that the advertisements were usually not part of the digital copy and she, colleague Amanda Lambert, and a handful of students removed the advertisements from each journal and ordered them by journal title and date, hoping that eventually the ads themselves could be digitized, indexed, and made available via the UWDC Collections. The advertisements can be searched by a number of keywords in the “Search or browse the collection” function. When discovering an individual ad, the optically character recognized component of the database allows a more granular search of the text within an individual image.
HADES is a multiyear project, and the batches of ads, designated by journal title, will be loaded to the database as the scanning and indexing are slowly completed. Please address questions about the original print advertisements or research uses to History of the Health Science Librarian/Curator at Ebling Library by emailing: