Beyond the river stretches the interminable prairie, where the fields of harvested wheat lie wrapped in slumber; . . . . The light stealing upon the broad shadows, first touches the tops of the prairie wagons. . . . Then, making more and more progress, it shines. . . and at last, in full glory of splendor, brings out the yellow of the cultivated fields and the course brown of the sandy soil.

~ Picturesque America, 1872

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Ephemera

Ephemera are paper documents produced for a short, transitory life -- an item produced for a specific purpose and normally intended for disposal. The definition of ephemera comes to us from the Greek ‘epi’ (about) and ‘hermeris’ (day). Some examples of ephemera are letterhead stationery, tickets, menus, posters, advertising materials, calendars, programs, paper currency, invitations, theatrical programs, trade catalogues, invitations, postcards, and posters. These materials offer a glimpse into popular products of the day, their prices, how businesses promoted their products, who performed in a city’s cultural and theatrical venues, popular cuisine, different types of music that was in vogue, and the stars of the sports world.

 

Learn more:

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and
Other Printed Ephemera
The Library of Congress presents over 10,000 primary historical documents as examples of the perspectives and beliefs of citizens during key events and eras in American history.

The Ephemera Society of America
This non-profit organization’s website provides an introduction to ephemera through an array of examples, exhibits, and articles. Also lists events and fairs throughout the U.S. that focus on the world of ephemera.

Last Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 06:37 PM.