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HIST 084: Modern Addiction: Cigarette Smoking (SC): Legacy Tobacco Documents Library

History 84: Modern Addiction: Cigarette Smoking in the 20th Century (Armus) Fall 2014

Search the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library

About the LTDL

The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL), developed and managed by the UCSF Library, allows searching of tobacco industry documents from a variety of companies. These collections are comprised of tobacco industry documents from the late nineteenth century up through the present with the bulk of the collections dated 1950 through 2002.

The LTDL contains over 14 million documents including advertisements, tobacco company internal memos, transcripts of court depositions, television commercial videos, and more.

See examples of research projects done using documents from the LTDL.

Using the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library

The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library contains millions of documents. Here are some suggestions for finding what you need efficiently, without getting bogged down in thousands of minimally relevant results. Scroll down to view each tip.

  • Searching by document collection
  • Limit to particular types of documents (e.g. letters, reports)
  • Narrow results by date
  • Find related documents by using Bates Numbers
  • Find documents related to specific brands, companies, and people
  • Multimedia Collection
  • Technical Tips

Choose a collection to search, rather than the entire database.

The LTDL organizes documents into collections that you can search independently.


  • Master Settlement Collection - internal documents from most major American tobacco companies, including American Tobacco and Phillip Morris (among others) as well as the Council for Tobacco Research
  • Pollay Advertising Collection - over 10,000 tobacco advertisements from the 1950s-1970s
  • Research Collections - collections of documents on particular themes (e.g. misleading information about secondhand smoke, marketing of cigarettes to the GLBTQ community)

How to search within collections: on the search page, check the boxes for the collection(s) you want to search.

View the full list of collections and their descriptions here.

Search for documents by the type of source you need - e.g. internal memos, letters

Limit your search by document type to find the particular kinds of sources that are best suited to your research question. As you can see in the image to the left, you can select "Document Type" from the drop-down menu next to the search boxes.

Some Document Types:

  • memorandum (internal memos and notes)
  • video
  • audio
  • letter
  • report
  • speech (usually transcripts of speeches)
  • presentation (within the company or public)


This list contains only some of the document types found in LTDL. Find other document types by looking at the records for individual documents and seeing what document types have been applied to each document.

Excluding Types of Documents:

You can also exclude document types that you do not want.

For example, if you are not interested in video or audio, enter "video" and "audio" into the last two search boxes.

Change the drop-down menu next to each one from "Entire Record" to "Document Type."

Finally, change the last 2 small drop-down menus from "And" to "Not."

Limiting Search Results by Document Date

   To search for documents created within a certain timespan, enter dates using the following format:


   So to search for documents dated from 1987 through 1989, enter your dates as follows:

   19870101 - 19891231


However: Be careful when limiting your search to particular years or dates.

Many documents in the DTDL are undated. Once you've narrowed down your area of interest and found a few documents, you may want to run a similar search without any date restrictions. This would let you find relevant documents that may not have been dated.

Using Bates Numbers to Find Related Documents

As you may know, many of the documents on LTDL were made public through lawsuits filed against tobacco companies. When documents are produced within the context of a legal investigation, each document is given a unique identifying number called a Bates Number.

For the most part, Bates numbers are sequentially assigned to related documents. So you can use Bates Numbers to find documents that are related to one another.

LTDL makes it really easy to browse this way. When you're looking at the record for a specific document, click on the tiny green arrows next to the "Bates Number" category.

Finding Documents Related to Specific Brands, Companies, and People

Search By Brand

In most collections on LTDL, you can search for documents related to particular brands (as opposed to companies, which may sell multiple brands of cigarette).  

In a search box, type brd:brand name. For example:

  • brd:kool
  • brd:virginia slims

Search by Company or Organization

In most collections on LTDL, you can search for documents related to particular companies, research organizations, lobbying firms, professional organizations (e.g. medical organizations), advocacy groups, and other relevant organizations. Searching this way will pull up documents in which the organization you're searching for was mentioned or discussed. You may need to try variations on the organization's name, for example "FDA" and "Food and Drug Administration."

In a search box, type org:organization name. For example:

  • org:american medical association
  • org:national smokers alliance
  • org:fda

Search by Person

In most collections on LTDL, you can search for documents related to particular people. These people have been mentioned or discussed in the document. There are also other search options for recipients of letters, senders of letters, and other ways to search for people by name.

In a search box, type per:person's name. For example:

  • per:kessler

Other Searches:
You can use the same strategy to search using other "field codes." View the list at this link, and then add the field code plus your search term to the search box.

General formula:

fieldcode:search term

Multimedia Collection

If you're interested in finding multimedia sources (video and audio), you may want to start your search here:

Or use the regular Advanced Search page and check the Collection box for Multimedia.

Browse tobacco industry videos here:

Browse tobacco industry audio here:

Techical Tips

  • Avoid using the back button in your browser as it tends to cause the search boxes to malfunction.
  • For many documents, you have a choice of 4 formats for accessing the full text. At the bottom of each document's record, you'll usually find the following:
    •    View as PDF
    •    View as TIFF (image file)
    •    View page by page (HTML view)
    •    A link - this is a permanent link that you can send in emails, etc.