250,000 pages of cataloguey goodness are yours for perusal, covering the years 1896 to 1993, when it ceased production as a paper artifact.
Ancestry, the Utah-based online genealogy company, is really stretching, not just to help you find out who your progenitors were, but Who they were. What they wore. What they used in the kitchen.
But like any wholesale sharing of previously-unavailable material online, people will find new uses for the materials. Historians and designers in particular should be able to make hay from this trove.
"The original 1888 mailer carrying watches and jewelry expanded into a catalog in 1894 that kept growing offering an ever-widening range of products: sewing machines, sporting goods, musical instruments, saddles, firearms, buggies, bicycles, baby carriages, and clothing."(And houses, of course - that goes without saying.)*
Now, if you grew up with the Sears catalogue (I'm talking to the grown-ups here), you probably know all that. Here's what you might not know. Big wigs were involved in the catalogue's production. Big. Wigs.
"Big name 40s and 50s film stars Lauren Bacall and Susan Hayward model fashions in pages of the catalog. Also featured are Ted Williams, a major baseball player in the 40s, Al Unser, a race car driver, and Gene Autry, 'The Singing Cowboy.'"
As one of my co-workers** so sagely said, and I quote, "Squeeeee!!!!"
Squeeeee indeed, my young friend. Squeeeee indeed.
*In case you were wondering, no, you cannot use this system to go back in time and order an original Slinky.
**This may have been me.