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Mark Childs Collection of Route 66 Matchbooks

Identifier: PICT-2018-002

Scope and Content

This collection of undated matchbooks are graphically notable and advertise businesses, primarily motels, on Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. The cover art generally illustrates buildings and signs, representing built forms rather than other types of art.

The matchbooks are undated, but appear date from the mid to late twentieth century.

The matchbooks are significant for their hand-lettered typography, stylized illustration, and eye-catching color and images. The covers are printed in in many color combinations, as one color, two color and full color illustrations, on white or colored cardboard. Many have printing on the interior as well as exterior surfaces. The unfolded cardboard covers range in width from 3/4 to 3-1/8 inches, with most 1-1/2 or 2 inches wide by 4-1/3 inches long. The matches were removed.

The collection is grouped by state and city, proceeding east to west.

Most of the matchbooks are from motor hotels, motels and lodges, with a few representing cafes, restaurants, tourist attractions, truck stops and service stations.

Additional matchbook covers were donated after the original accession was processed. They are arranged according to order of receipt.


  • circa 1930-2006

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


Route 66, the Mother Road, was commissioned in 1928. The highway originally ran from Chicago, Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles. In New Mexico, it covers 380 miles, generally on an east-west path. Businesses appeared along Route 66 to sustain travelers by automobile. Whether following a motel stay or restaurant stop, tourists often continued their journey with a matchbook in their pocket, a small but useful advertising gimmick.

Mark Childs, professor in the School of Architecture and Planning, acquired a collection of matchbooks representing businesses on Route 66 from each state the highway passed through. The collection grows from his research in urban design, public arts and spaces, and narrative landscapes, particularly his investigations of signage on Route 66 (in 2016, he published The Zeon Files: Art and Design of Historic Route 66 Signs.)


125 items (1 box) : 125 matchbooks ; range: 0.75 x 3.18 in. to 2 x 4.33 in


This collection of undated matchbooks are graphically notable and advertise businesses, primarily motels, on Route 66 from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number.

Related Material

For additional graphic design illustrations related to Route 66, see the Zeon Sign Company Records.

Processing Information

Collection was processing in March 2018

Small additions have been processed in June 2018 and January 2019.
Finding Aid of the Mark Childs Collection of Route 66 Matchbooks, circa 1930-2006
Edited Full Draft
Cindy Abel Morris
© 2018, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131