Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Medical ephemera in the US National Library of Medicine

(C) U.S. National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Division
Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) contains 69,271 images, including 7,763 posters and 4,445 postcards.These can be searched (including advanced searching) or browsed by an impressive range of categories under What, where and who. Although predominantly from the USA, these images are international with hundreds from the UK, France, China (notably Chinese anti-malaria and anti tuberculosis posters) and Switzerland.
Here today, here tomorrow: varieties of medical ephemera is the online version of a1995 exhibition of medical ephemera from the collections of William H. Helfand and the National Library of Medicine. It is arranged by theme: Addiction, Aids, Bookplates, Children, Medical education, Medical show, Public health, Tuberculosis and Women. The online version contains 140 of the original 400 items. The site also hosts separate online exhibitions of  Aids ephemera (based on an exhibition held in 2002) and Public health posters.

Ephemera and books on ephemera in the NLM collections can be found through Locator Plus.

(C) US National Library of Medicine and William H. Helfand


Monday, 27 February 2012

Reports on ephemera in libraries: CILIP, Clinton, Makepeace and Pemberton

In January 2003, CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, formerly the Library Association) held a meeting in London (chaired by Prof Michael Twyman) under the auspices of re:source (the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries) to examine library and museum issues relating to ephemera (significance, acquisitions, collection management, cataloguing, digitisation, etc.). The report and its recommendations: Ephemera: the stuff of history are on CILIP's website.

Earlier works on library issues are, notably:
  • Pemberton, John E. The national provision of printed ephemera in the social sciences: a report prepared for the Social Science and Government Committee of the Social Science Research Council. Coventry, 1971
  • Clinton, Alan.  Printed ephemera: collection, organisation, and access. London, 1981
  • Makepeace, Chris E. Ephemera: a book on its collection, conservation, and use. Aldershot and Brookfield, Vt., c. 1985

The Advertising Archives

The Advertising Archives is a commercial site, with over 1 million catalogued images from the mid-19th century to the present.  It was started in 1990 by Larry and Suzanne Viner. The site exists to sell high resolution scans for a variety of uses including editorial, academic and personal, and thumbnails are also available for research.

The site includes posters, postcards, menus, theatre programmes & other ephemera, British & American press adverts, magazine covers and artwork, mail order catalogues, French and Spanish magazine art and British television advertising stills.

Collections can be searched by keyword (with the facility to refine the results by country and decade). You can browse The Advertising Archives by decade and a range of themes (John Bull, or Coca-Cola for example). There are also selections of topical images in 'Hot off the press'.

A full range of associated services is offered (picture research, sales of whole original magazines, valuations, prints from images, etc) to those who register.

The Advertising Archives also has a blog and can be followed on Twitter: @AdArchives

(C) The Advertising Archives

Friday, 24 February 2012

Historical Directories (University of Leicester)

Ephemera related to trades (such as trade cards or advertisements) are often undated. Directories are an invaluable tool in establishing dates for a business at a particular address. The University of Leicester's Historical Directories project is "a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919", with its main focus on directories of the 1850s, 1890s and 1910s. It doesn't claim to be at all comprehensive, which does mean that you cannot trace a firm through its different addresses for example. You could, however, easily establish which businesses were in Broad Street, Oxford in 1839 or discover how many ironmongers (17), lime burners (3) or milliners (39 excl straw hat makers) there were in Exeter in 1844. A keyword search for Exeter in Pigott's 1844 directory (Pigot & Co.'s Directory of Berks, Bucks ... , 1844. [Part 1: Berks to Glos]) also reveals fascinating information about coach transport, delivery of letters etc between Exeter and other towns.

The directories can be searched by location (including an interactive map), decade, and by keywords.  The online directories can be searched by name, street name, trade, etc. with hit-highlighting on the digital images.
There are also useful tips, case studies, and links to other resources on the History notes pages.

(C) University of Leicester

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Wellcome Library

The Wellcome Library includes 43,000 16th-21st century ephemera relating to the history of medicine. This material is being surfaced through the Wellcome Library's online catalogue, through a blog (tag Ephemera)  and through Wellcome Images, where tags include advertisements and ephemera. Where they exist, full bibliographic records from the library catalogue are linked to images in Wellcome Images. Thumbnails appear in the corresponding catalogue entries.  Only c.10 per cent of the ephemera are fully catalogued, with box level records for the rest. Enquiries should be directed to library@wellcome.ac.uk.

Useful search terms for genres relevant to ephemera (select genre/medium in library catalogue search) are:

Addresses, Advertisements, Advertising cards, Advertising fliers (div by century), Albums, Almanacs, Auction catalogues, Badges, Bags, Ballads, Billheads, Blank forms, Blotting paper, Book covers, Bookmarks, Bookplates, Books printed as advertisements, Booksellers advertisements, Broadsides (subdiv geog & chron), Cards, Calendars, Cartes de visite, Cartoons (commentary), Catalogues, Certifcates, Christmas cards, Cigarette cards, Concert programs, Cut paper works, Cutouts, Devotional images, Direct mail, Display cards, England broadsides, Envelopes, Ephemera, Exhibition catalogues, Exhibition posters, Gameboards, Greetings cards, Handbills, Handkerchiefs, Invitations, Jigsaw puzzles, Keys (legends).Labels, Lantern slides, Leaflets, Letterheads, Library catalogues, Lottery tickets, Magazine inserts, Manufacturers catalogues, Membership cards, Membership lists, Menus, Motion picture posters, Optical toys, Packaging, Panoramic views, Paper toys, Photographic postcards, Pictorial envelopes, Playing cards, Postage stamps, Postal stationery, Postcards, Posters, Price lists, Proclamations, Programs, Prospectuses, Protest posters, Publishers catalogues, Puzzles. Raffle tickets, Rebuses, Regulations, Sales catalogues, Sheet music covers, Souvenir programs, Stationery, Stickers, Theater programs, Theatrical posters,  Tickets, Trade cards, Trade catalogues, Transfer sheets, Transparencies, Valentines, Visiting cards, Wall charts, War posters,  and Window cards.

Wellcome images also has a Facebook page and can be followed on Tumblr, Flickr and on Twitter (@wellcomeimages).

© Wellcome Images / Wellcome Library, London

Wartime cartoons, propaganda and posters at King's College, London

The staff of Special Collections at King College, London Library have mounted several online exhibitions which relate to ephemera or political cartoons.  The cartoon in wartime propaganda relates the history of propaganda cartoons and discusses types of propaganda, with sections on modern propaganda, posters, pamphlets air leaflets, and recruitment posters, and issues such as morale. Each essay is well illustrated, notably from the dispersed Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library collections, some of which are at King's College. Another online exhibition of interest to ephemerists is The Duke of Wellington.

Ephemera are also being surfaced through The Serving Soldier, notably  World War One Posters

© 2009 - 2012 King's College London

Monday, 20 February 2012

Canada in the First and Second World Wars

A new (bliingual) site: Wartime Canada uses ephemera as a 'window into the Canadian experience during the world wars'. This collaborative project states that the 'emphasis is on the kind of material that is usually regarded as disposable – the very material that was omnipresent in the lives of Canadians in wartime'.

Each of the main subjects (Eating, Fighting, Learning, Relaxing, Remembering, Returning, Shopping, Volunteering, Working, and Worshipping) is broken down into sub-themes, with illustrations and metadata. Only ten per cent of the content is yet online, with approximately 5,000 items still to be uploaded, so this is a site to keep re-visiting.

Lesson plans are provided for a range of themes, such as War effort, Government & economy, Identity & culture, and Society.

Wartime Canada can be followed on Twitter: @WartimeCA

© 2012 · Wartime Canada

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Burdick Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Burdick Collection is the 'finest collection of trade cards in the United States.'  Not only did Jefferson R. Burdick (1900-1963) collect trade cards (advertising cards) but he devised a way of categorising them. The American card catalog (East Stroudsburg, Penna., 1960) is the standard reference work on the subject. Especially notable is his collection of baseball cards, a small selection of which is on display in the American Wing (gallery 773).

There are 3,307 entries for Burdick's collection in the Metropolitan Museum catalogue, with 148 digital images. It extends to other areas of ephemera, such as greetings cards, prints and postcards. A Directory of the J. R. Burdick Collection; trade and souvenir cards and other paper Americana in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was published by the Museum in the 1960s.

Burdick also wrote Pioneer post cards, the story of mailing cards to 1898, with an illustrated checklist of publishers and titles, New York, c. 1957.

© 2000–2012 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Valentine urls from the #loveheritage day on Twitter

I was hoping for more collections of valentines to be surfaced through the Twitter's #Askarchivists #loveheritage initiative, and I was not disappointed.  Many collections put valentines online through Flickr or blogs. Here are some urls to explore:

Cambridge Tower Project blog on valentines (C) Cambridge University Library

Ulster Museum
National Museums Northern Ireland
Cambridge Tower Project
American Historical Association
Museum of London blog
Museum of London Collection
Glamorgan archives
Mass Observation archive
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
Postal Heritage Museum
About ‘comic’ valentines from Times Archive
About valentines
New York Public Library
History wired
National Archives of Scotland
Herbert Art Gallery
Beamish Museum

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Nancy Rosin's Victorian Treasury and the National Valentine Collectors Association

Copyright © 2012 by Nancy Rosin

Nancy Rosin is an indefatiguable valentine collector and expert.  Through her website: Nancy Rosin's Victorian Treasury: the valentine resource, she shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject, notably through her knowledgeable articles.  

Her most recent article: Adding flight to the wings of Cupid: postal delivery of the valentine  is online through the American Stamp Dealer.

Nancy is also President of the National Valentine Collectors Association (which, in addition to online auctions distributes to its members informative Newsletters).  The National Valentine Collectors Association has a very active and informative Facebook page.

Nancy's interest in ephemera goes beyond the valentine: she is also Vice President of The Ephemera Society of America.

There is an interview with Nancy on the Ephemera blog (Typepad).


There is a major initiative today by #AskArchivists encouraging archives, libraries and museums to surface their collections which relate to love. The Twitter hashtag is #loveheritage.  Undoubtedly, valentine collections will form a major part of this.

My other blog: The John Johnson Collection: now and then has a new post about valentines in the John Johnson Collection and the Harding Collection, featuring Comic Valentines. In 2010, we had a small display of valentines in the Bodleian: The season for love. The poster, exhibition leaflet, captions and images are online.

There are already six tags for valentines in this blog (The Scrap Album site, the Museum of London, the Shell Art Collection at the National Motor Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, the Imperial War Musuem and The Library Company of Philadelphia).   Here are some more links:
 The standard work on the history of valentines is by Frank Staff:: The valentine and its origins. London, c. 1969

Monday, 13 February 2012

Library Company of Philadelphia

The Library Company of Philadelphia is "an independent research library concentrating on American history and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries." Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, it lists its strengths as : Afro-Americana; American science, technology, economics, architecture, agriculture, natural history, education, philanthropy, and medicine; German-Americana; the history of printing and publishing; American Judaica; the history of women, domestic economy, and family life; printmaking, mapmaking, and photography in Philadelphia; and the libraries of James Logan and Benjamin Franklin.

Collections can be searched through WolfPAC and the LCP is building up its digital surrogates and online exhibitions, available through ImPAC.

I was delighted to find under Medicine an informative and illustrated description of the William H. Helfand collection of proprietary medicine pamphlets which includes many advertisements and other ephemera. On the site too is an online version of the exhibition held in 1998 by the LCP: Every man his own doctor.

(C) Library Company of Philadelphia

Other ephemeral treasures of the Library Company of Philadelphia include 5,462 ballads in the American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads and Poetical Broadsides Collection, 1850-1870, all catalogued online, with images available through clicking on subjects from a list below the introductory text.

There is also the Rose and Leon Doret Collection of Business Ephemera. The section of the collection digitised on ImPAC consists of advertisements and publicity material sent to the Philadelphia firm John C. Clark from 1866-1868 -  a fascinating snapshot.

Many more ephemera are contained in Philadelphia on Stone, a collection of lithographically printed material which is accompanied by a webpage, online exhibition, digital catalogue (with 8 collaborating institutions), a biographical dictionary of lithographers, and a link to a demonstration of lithography on You Tube by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

What brought me to the site originally was the  John A. McAllister Civil War Collection, which can be browsed on ImPAC together with a recent online exhibition. Mr McAllister's collection on ImPAC includes Comic Valentines, digitised and catalogued, which anticipates my blog for Valentine's Day on The John Johnson Collection: Now and Then (WordPress).

There is much to explore at the Library Company of Philadelphia. And I have not even touched on the prints and photographs!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Posters in the Imperial War Museum

© IWM 2011

Searching the Imperial War Museum Collections and Research web pages for 'poster' returns 13,557 hits. Divided into themes, these can be viewed and shared.  Themes include Evacuation, Defence of the Realm Act, Women's Services in the First World War, Breakthrough, Great Britain 1939-1945 (black and white), First World War Propaganda Posters (black and white),South Vietnam, and Ministry of Food. Results can be narrowed too by creators, subject period, places, events, associated person, materials, subjects, themes and keywords. All have drop-down lists.

For other ephemera, the Museum has a category 'Souvenirs and ephemera'. Featured this February is a sweetheart heart pin cushion..

Over 7,000 of The Imperial War Museum's Posters of Conflict are available throught the VADS website, where they are cross-searchable with other collections (including Political prints and Trades and professions prints in the John Johnson Collection).


Tuesday, 7 February 2012


The ARTstor Digital Library is "a nonprofit resource that provides more than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research."  It is widely available through educational networks, internationally (universities, libraries, museums, schools, etc.).

Searching by genres of ephemera such as advertisement, poster, invitation, postcard, etc reveals just how much ephemera is on the site (1000 results for poster, for example). Searches can be narrowed by country and classification. Full advanced searching is available including limitation by date. The screen shot shows a search for poster and war, sorted by date.  As the content is so international, this is a wonderful resource for comparing national graphic styles.

There is also an ARTstor blog.


Monday, 6 February 2012

Monash University Library

I read about ephemera at Monash University Library in a hard copy of their Recent Acquisitions 6, passed to me by a colleague. This can also be downloaded as a pdf or viewed as a virtual exhibition.  The Library exhibits its recent acquistions every two or three years. The current exhibition (8 December 2011 - 5 March 2012) includes ephemera, such as games, children's scrap books, rock posters, souvenirs and guides, exhibition guides, catalogues, an Olympic Games programme for 1932, and a broadside from 1841.

(C) 2011 Monash University
In exploring their website further I was excited to find a whole exhibition from 2006-07: Ephemera, with pdf catalogue and virtual exhibition. Richard Overell, Head of Rare Books (who mentions the John Johnson Collection in the foreword) explains that Monash University Library has been collecting ephemera since the 1990s to support research by social historians. Although many of their ephemera are recent, the collection impressively contains English pamphlets and broadsides from the late 17th century onwards. The catalogue is full of information about ephemera and the provenance of the material in Monash's collection and is beautifully illustrated with samples of the collection.

The introduction to the catalogue takes the form of a very interesting essay on the nature of ephemera The evidence that history forgot by Prof Graeme Davison.

(C) 2011 Monash University

Friday, 3 February 2012

Bibliography of books on ephemera on the Ephemera Society of America website

Although referred to in my general post on the Ephemera Society of America website the excellent ephemera bibliography deserves a post on its own as a very impressive starting point for one of the aims of this blog: to list and discuss books on ephemera.  It includes general ephemera, paper and conservation, as well as books on specific genres of ephemera, from air transport labels to visiting cards.  British as well as American books are included, although, of course, books published both in America and England will be cited in their American editions.

(C) 2011 Ephemera Society of America


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The British Book Trade Index

The BBTI, hosted at the University of Birmingham is a superb tool for dating booktrade and other ephemera. Covering a multiplicity of book-related trades, such as ink maker, gold beater, engraver, lithographer, auctioneer, librarian/owner of circulating library, stationer, and publisher, the resource goes far beyond dating booktrade ephemera and is helpful in dating any ephemera with an imprint. Its scope is England and Wales to 1851. Aseparate Scottish booktrade index is hosted by the National Library of Scotland.

Information given about each tradesman includes (where known) dates of birth and death, addresses with associated dates, apprenticeships, successors, and trades. Sources of information are given and contributions can be made to the database.

As an example, this is the BBTI information for Abel Sweetland of Exeter, enabling us to date the trade card in the John Johnson Collection to 1783-85 and that of his widow Margaret to 1787-96.


JJ Coll Provincial Booktrade 2 (13)