Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 7

Newspaper Advertisements from the 1840s


Students will examine a sample of Cleveland newspaper advertisements from the 1840s in order to understand what life was like in Cleveland in 1846.



  1. What was advertised in the newspapers of the 1840s?
  2. What products or services were needed?
  3. What do these ads tell us about life during the 1840s?
  4. How are newspaper ads similar and different today?


  1. Ask students what type of information you can gather from a newspaper? Who reads a newspaper? Why do people or companies use a newspaper to advertise their products? What other mediums do we have for advertising today? What about in the 1840s?
  2. Divide students into groups and distribute a different copy of the newspaper ads to each group. Explain to them that today they will be the historians. They will research a primary source (newspaper ads) in order to gather information about the community of Cleveland in the 1840s. As they research their sources, they will complete the research analysis sheet and then report their findings to the class.
  3. As each group reports their research findings, begin to categorize and compile the information on the board, encouraging students to do the same (they will need this information in order to complete their essay). Discuss the findings with the class, encouraging students to analyze, support, and question information. They should be encouraged to also begin forming hypotheses.
  4. Once the class sharing of information and discussion is complete, students are to write an essay describing what life was like in Cleveland during the 1840s.
  5. An additional activity would be to have groups design an advertisement section of a newspaper, similar to those of the 1840s, only they are to represent what like is like today.

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