Popular Toy Gifts of Past Recessions, Thanks to Sears Catalog Archive

Sear catalog from 1905
Sear catalog from 1905

For anyone old enough to have ever had a Sears catalog at home, the memory of being a child and circling the toys they wanted for Christmas is a strong one. Sears printed the catalogs from 1896 until 1993, and while the catalogs that millions of children tore into is now long gone, they're available on the Internet in a new Sears catalog archive.

Ancestry.com announced Nov. 30, that it is making the complete collection of catalogs and more than 250,000 pages available online.

Viewing the pages is like traveling back in time, but without having to worry about philosophical issues such as meeting your mom when she was 6. They offer a glimpse of how Sears targeted -- and how customers spent what little money they had -- selling gifts during the many recessions of the past 100 years.