Many people are looking to understand what a specific business looked like, but because many of the buildings they occupied were renovated, or destroyed and replaced, this can be tricky. Added to that, many business don’t leave behind much about themselves, making the quest to understand what their town or a business actually looked like, that much more difficult. This is why I am always on the look-out for resources that may have images of individual businesses, and which can provide an avenue for researchers. While finding images featuring specific buildings in a trade publication like Geyer’s may be like looking for a needle in a haystack and come down to a bit of luck, it is still possible.
In the past, it was not uncommon for advertisements in trade periodicals and local newspapers to actually feature an image of a building or business. In some cases, the image was a sketch, while, other times it was a photograph. However, while articles from trade magazines may be indexed in resources like Business Periodical Index or Industrial Arts Index, advertisements are not. Researchers either have to flip through a publication or use that publication’s Advertisers Index, which can help locate the larger ads. Recently, however, the internet has become a helpful tool for finding images in trade publications as some have been digitized (though not Geyer’s unfortunately).
In Geyer’s, articles about a best practice, a new way of doing something, or featuring a business because of their longevity or stature in the community, are good for images of stores. Geyer’s had a regular “How they Face the World” column and pieces from it often featured a photograph of a front window along with a little bit of information about the store. In some cases, the articles even took the reader inside the store by including pictures of a store’s interior.
Beyond photographs, there are articles about businesses, new products on offer from a manufacturer, or other general interest topics. An article published in the July 20, 1924 issue caught my eye because it was published in the run up to the annual industry convention, which was held in Cincinnati that year. The authors wanted to entice members into attending the conference, so the article showcased the “Modern City of Cincinnati” by featuring images of some of the city’s leading business, which they felt best illustrated that theme. This included companies such as Globe-Wernicke, Henderson Lithography, U.S. Playing Card Company, Samuel C. Tatum Products, Ault & Wiborg, and Dalton Adding Machine Company. Anyone wanting to know how Cincinnati looked at that time has several images showing that in just this one article.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at Geyer’s because I may revisit this publication in 2024. If you are doing company or community research, we do have a guide that that might be helpful. One source we like to mention specifically, is the Dun & Bradstreet set that is digitized for the years before 1924.
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