University of Iowa is using Pinterest to exhibit digitized archival and special collections materials that recall the mid-20th century advertising scene, and to connect them to the cable television show Mad Men. Characters and content in the show that take after actual people and happenings in the 1950s and 1960s are referenced in a small paragraph accompanying each of the 27 “pins,” and linked to where at UI they are housed and how they can be accessed.
For example, there are digitized costume and set design sketches in collection of papers for David Swift, who directed the musical film “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Set in 1967, the same year as the current season of Man Men, the movie starred Robert Morse, who now plays a lead character as a veteran advertising firm partner in Man Men. Although the sketches are only one part of the whole David Swift Papers collection, the images recall a time that Man Men has now depicted for almost five complete seasons.
At the heart of Mad Men and the 1950s and 1960s Madison Avenue advertising industry in New York City are, of course, the ads. Pins displaying those nostalgic advertisements that ran in The Daily Iowan link to the newspaper’s digital archive at UI.
Occasions in pop culture like Man Men are perfect occasions for archives and special collections to pull out relevant artifacts and to teach people about primary source materials. Pinterest, in all its addicting splendor, is too a perfect occasion to solicit some new archival user groups, or at least fans of archival exhibits like UI’s.