Hot! I’m in Sears Catalog Heaven

Cover As a paying Ancestry.com member, I am beyond excited about the following news I received today:

Our newest collection, Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993, is a stroll through this collective consumer history, with prices, descriptions and images from almost every spring and fall catalog (excluding Christmas Wishbooks).

That's right — almost every single Sears catalog page has been scanned as is now available for paid members of Ancestry.com. I'm a genealogy nut so I totally justify the subscription and do indeed use it (and have been successful) for my family research. However, it's not inexpensive — plans start at $19.95 a month, I believe, with the yearly discounts that services generally provide. They do provide a credit card-required 14-day free trial, as well.


Enough with the technicalities. The archive is so utterly amazing! I have a couple of the catalog compilation source books but this completely blows them out of the water. Not only can you search for terms, but the scans are a pretty good resolution. For example, all these gorgeous fabrics for sale from 1946:

Fabrics

And there is also the ability to share images via Facebook, Twitter or email. I believe if you share, some sort of guest pass is created for those who don't have an account. I've only explored less than a hundred pages today and could barely decide what images I wanted to share here. 

I'm on a sweater kick right now, so I loved seeing these sweaters from 1939.

Sweaters

Or these fun plaids from 1958:

Dresses

Or this celebration of bright colors also from 1958.

1670_00025

Or this ridiculous matching dress and umbrella from 1955. And by ridiculous I mean, I wish I could order it right now.

Umbrella

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

17 Comments

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  1. Wow. I SO wish I had the money to subscribe. I will just have to happy with living vicariously through your blog posts ;)

  2. So neat!
    I used to have this Dover book of Sears catalog pages, Everyday Fashions of the Forties: http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Fashions-Forties-Pictured-Catalogs/dp/0486269183
    It was a fun book, but it’s printed in black and white. I always assumed the catalog was, too, but I guess not!

  3. Oh WOW! I think my Dad has a membership! Whoohooo…what a great idea!

  4. I am researching both mine and my husband’s family tree. A daunting but oh, so interesting task. When I saw the pics I too had excitations. Now I’m totally sidetracked from my research.

  5. That is SO cool! Too bad that dress/umbrella combo isn’t really available (and for only $8.98!) My husbands grandfather worked for Sears, so I’m lucky to have several vintage catalogues; there’s so many times I wish I could just fill out that slip and ‘order’ something from 60+ years ago!

  6. I love love love stuff like this! My history of advertising class was full of old magazine ads but nothing extensive like these archives. Amazing!

  7. I totally want to make and wear every single one of those outfits.
    Where can I find those sweaters?…LOL!!!
    Thanks for posting this…super awesome!

  8. Wow, thanks for the heads up. I’ve been searching my library for these catalogs, but now I can see them on Ancestry. Hubby and I are genealogy nerds, too. When we go on road trips, we map the locations of cemeteries we might want to visit.

  9. wow, that’s amazing, I can see a lot of time spent browsing those pages.

  10. Oh my golly–eye candy!!! I think perhaps in January during my “post holiday recovery” I might have to give the test trial a go just so I can look at all these. Thank you so much for sharing this resource! :) I am drooling over those sweaters from 1939…(And thank you too for the email–I got a kick out of that page of nautical outfits! So cute.)
    ♥ Casey | blog

  11. I LOVE the pink dress with umbrella.
    For my birthday a year or so ago my best friend sent me a Sept. 1, 1966 Spiegel Catalogue I have a blast looking through it.

  12. Oh my goodness…That is almost enough to convince me I *must* join Ancestry! Thank you for sharing the images. Love that red plaid!

  13. Hi, this is great! I thought the catalogues were in black and white too, so this is wonderful. Can you download images during the free 14 day trial?

  14. I LOVE Sears catalogs. A few years ago, my mom and I were flea market-ing and she bought me a Spring/Summer 1956 Sears catalog for $5. It was so sad because the person who sold it to her was taking care of someone else’s booth while they were going to lunch and when the seller returned he looked for my mom demanding she return the catalog, pay him 5 more dollars, or he was going to call security. It was ridiculous and after everything was explained to him, the seller had a fit. And no, we didn’t return it or give him any more money and he didn’t call security (Especially after the name calling began. Doesn’t it get you when people threaten you just to get money but don’t really care about the item in question).
    I read your “Vintage Finds: Lessons Learned” article and it’s like you said, people have the right to make mistakes, but not rude and make you feel bad. At that point, I lose any sympathy.

  15. So glad to see this info. I lived in these books at Christmas time. Even had my page numbers memorized where I’d circled things for my list. I miss them so much and saddened my own kids missed the chance to experience the fun of creating a Christmas list for Santa with this as a resource!

  16. I love looking at those catalogs. If I look closely enough I will find half the clothes I wore as a kid in the 70′s. My mom was a big Sears and JC Penney catalog shopper. Very fun! I, too, am an avid genealogist.

  17. So it’s me again and yes you can download images on the free trial. I am especially delighted with the full color pictures and innovative use of fabrics, particularly border fabrics! I may pay for one month of membership though, as I am getting “downloading wrist” and have spent WAY too much time sitting over the past week!