One of the most prominent manufacturers of mail-order homes in the United States, the Aladdin Company sold more than 50,000 kit houses between 1906 and 1982, when the business closed. In 1996, the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University acquired the company’s complete records. In addition to bills, contracts, and other business documents, these records include a complete set of Aladdin Company’s annual catalogs and more than 15,000 drawings. The documents are of immense value to sociologists and historians who study the American family. Because the records make it possible to identify Aladdin homes, they are also of interest to historical societies and homeowners across the nation. Recognizing that this collection would have a wide audience, the Library sought funding from the NEH to arrange and describe the documents, which is the first, labor-intensive step required to make archival documents accessible to researchers. The Library has since digitized many of the records and published them online, making them freely and publicly available.
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