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Lyall D. Squair Streetcar Advertisements Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: LDS
Date: unknown

Biographical History

Lyall D. Squair (1930-2010) was a long-time resident of Syracuse, New York. He held several manufacturing jobs early in his career but returned to school at Syracuse University after a work injury, graduating with a degree in history and library science in 1961. He worked briefly at Syracuse University Library and in the Syracuse schools, following which he was for more than thirty years the Manager of Data Retrieval and Use and O'Brien & Gere in Syracuse. Squair was an avid collector of Rooseveltiana as well as material relating to railroads and New York history, and published several monographs on subjects related to these interests. He was active in a wide range of community organizations and was a Master Mason for more than fifty years.

Much like the advertisements featured on the sides of public buses and subways today, advertising posters were widely deployed in streetcars during the early part of the 20th century. One early mention is a lawsuit in 1887, concerning an agreement by the firm of Siegal, Cooper & Co. to pay for posting advertisements in 159 streetcars of the North Chicago City Railway for three months.1 In 1921 the trade journal Printers' Ink ran an ad which read, "One look is worth a thousand words," which talked about the benefits of advertising on streetcars. This article allegedly gave birth to the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words."2

1 Eaton, James Webster. A treatise on commercial paper and the Negotiable instruments law (Albany, 1903), p. 185.

2Never Use White Type on a Black Background and 50 Other Ridiculous Design Rules (BIS Publishers, 2009), Rule 18.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Lyall D. Squair Streetcar Advertisements Collection consists of 24 posters advertising various products, intended for posting in streetcars. Products include Sanitol toothpaste, Beech-Nut peanut butter, Crisco, Pillsbury, Zett's Bavarian beer, more. Many of the companies were local Syracuse area businesses.

Arrangement of the Collection

Bound volume, no particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See also the Central New York Trade Catalogs and Business Ephemera for more advertising from local and regional businesses.

Subject Headings


Advertising -- Alcoholic beverages.
Advertising -- Beer.
Advertising -- Clothing and dress.
Advertising -- Cosmetics.
Advertising -- Food.
Advertising -- Milk.
Advertising -- Shoes.
Advertising -- Soap.
Advertising -- Toothpaste.
Advertising -- United States -- History.
Business enterprises -- New York (State) -- History.
Cable cars (Streetcars)
Commercial art -- 20th century.
Electric railroads -- Cars.


Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History.

Genres and Forms

Car cards.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Lyall D. Squair Streetcar Advertisements Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Lyall D. Squair, 2001.

Table of Contents

Printed material