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Introduction

This is a research guide for a history of the department store architecture as a building type. This guide sets a direction for researchthat compares the building types of the library and museum with the department store building type, to show their similar functions as places of information seeking. Though this guide is focused only on the department store building type and related histories, selected literatures from retail, education, and material culture are also included.

The Interwar years (1917-1939) brought new ways to learn literal and visual kinds of information, with the introduction of new communications, new industry, and new relationships in home and community. As an intermediary between the user and the information or objects they wanted to find, department stores were designed to showcase goods according to strategies of merchandising, to create a “want” in the customer. Though this strategy in department store design is commonplace today, these ideas also thrived in nineteenth-century Europe. The rise of the middle class and their increased consumption of goods from factories, were the market for the first department stores, the form and function of which were established in the mid-nineteenth century.

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