Monday, 28 May 2012


The ephemera in this site, Ephemera curated by Saul Zalesch at Louisiana Tech University, Rushton, LA, are lesser-known items from his own collection, aimed at scholars and collectors. His aim is to provide 'more-nuanced pictures of American culture and life.' Many have been selected for their aesthetic value.  The collection is currently being donated to the Winterthur Library.

 Dr Zalesch posts selected images several times a week  The images can be browsed or viewed by categories: advertisement, almanach, book, booklet, card, catalog, illustration, magazine, and sheet music.  Each item is accompanied by a title, date and category and a lengthy and informative description under the heading of 'Why it's interesting.'  There are some 400 images on the site, all with commentaries.

This is a very interesting personal view of ephemera.  Comments to posts are invited.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Update on London School of Economics Posters

The LSE Digital Library has just put online 88 Political and Tariff Reform posters. Thanks to Andy Jack (LSE) for the update to my blog post of 4 May.

(C) LSE Digital Library

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

What's the score: crowd sourcing and popular Victorian music at the Bodleian Library

What's the score is the Bodleian's first crowd-sourcing project and aims to engage the public in helping to make accessible a collection of Victorian popular piano music which was received by the Library under legal deposit but never catalogued.  No particular expertise is required to transcribe the information from digitised images of the scores.  Developed in partnership with Zooniverse, the site is now live and has its own blog.  While this project is concerned with complete scores, the bonus to ephemerists is that it surfaces thousands of Victorian music covers.  The digital images can be browsed and the data collected will eventually improve the searchability of the collection.  The project is on Twitter: @whatscore


(C) Bodleian Libraries
The Music Titles (covers only)  in the John Johnson Collection are catalogued. The records are available through the online catalogue.  Records and images are in ProQuest's The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera.

The Bodleian also has a fine collection of popular music and music hall songs which form a major part of the Harding Collection. These are in the Bodleian's online catalogue SOLO (no images). Abigail Williams' recent Radio 3 broadcast about Walter Harding is still available.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Ephemera at the Huntington Library

The Huntington Library of California has a web page devoted to Historical prints and ephemera which outlines the scope of the collections. Not limited to Southern California, the general collections include American politics, theatre and entertainment ephemera, 20th century American railroads, commerce and advertising. Specialised collections include the L.E. Behymer Archive of early Southern California cultural events, the Jay T. Last Citrus Labels, California Promotional Literature, the Diana Korzenik Collection of Art Education Ephemera, Trade Cards, and Maritime Ephemera and Posters collected by John H. Kemble.

The result set (483 results) for keyword Ephemera in the General Library catalogue includes books on ephemera, but also invaluable detailed collection-level descriptions for collections including ephemera.

(C) Huntington Digital Library
Many of these collections are available through the Huntington Digital Library. The 'Browse all' function allows the user to restrict search results to prints and ephemera and to narrow results by title, artist/author or subject.  Results can then be further sorted by relevance, title, subject, description, creator, date, and date created. Clicking on a thumbnail brings up a full image and extensive metadata.

Also of great interest to ephemerists is the Jay T. Last Collection of Lithographic and Social History.  Selections from this were exhibited in 2010 under the title The color explosion, represented by a webpage with video by curator David Mihaly.  There are many fascinating past exhibitions, including Revisiting the Regency.

Finding aids to the Huntington collections are also available through the Online Archive of California, notably (for ephemera) The American Sheet Music Collection, Jay T. Last collection of Califormia Citrus box labels and the Jay T. Last Collection U.S. Civil War prints, posters and ephemera.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Patent Medicines at Hagley Museum and Library

The Patent Medicine online exhibition (Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE) is designed to show a small portion of their holdings of Patent Medicine material. The exhibition is divided into Almanacs, Photographs, Advertising, Trade Catalogs, and Manuscripts, and has sections on the History of Patent Medicine and Advertising and Branding.

There are links from the exhibition to Hagley Digital Archives, which provides larger images, some metadata and the facility to purchase images. Users can also add tags and comments.  I will return to Hagley Digital Archives in a future post.

(Hagley Museum and Library)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Princeton University Special Collections

There is a really useful online guide to selected special collections at Princeton University Library.

Alphabetically arranged, it gives a description under each heading. The entry under Ephemera highlights printers' samples, playbills, ballads, a World Columbian Exposition scrapbook, and proofs of labels for the Dutch linen trade.  There are also separate entries for Bookplates, Broadsides, Dust-jackets (Hodder and Stoughton, c.1900-1940), Lantern slides, Phrenology, Poetry broadsides, and Prospectuses.

A text search for ephemera of the Princeton University Library website brings links to Latin American posters, Grabhorn ephemera, to the Edward Naumburg Tea ephemera collection listing, to the Cotsen Collection and much else.

The Cotsen Collection (which I was priviledged to visit last year for the ephemera conference: Enduring trifles) is principally a distinguished collection of children's books, but contains ephemera and the Webb Miniature Theatre archive, with the original printing plates and stones.

There is also a Princeton Graphic Arts Collection blog about Printed Ephemera (see screenshot), which focuses on individual items or groups of items from a wide range of ephemera, including games, rewards of merit, advertising, tobacco papers, Louis Prang, a tinsel print, dance cards, a magician, colouring of photograph and lantern slides, a sheet music cover, change packets and, most recently, sweet papers. There are 96 posts in all, so much to savour.

© 2012 The Trustees of Princeton University

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Connected Histories

Connected Histories currently enables cross-searching of 15 major online resources, including the John Johnson Collection. They are: British History online, British Museum images, British Newspapers 1600-1900 (NB currently only the 17th and 18th century Burney collection: 19th century newspapers will be added soon).  Cause papers in the diocesan courts of the Archbishopric of York 1300-1858, Charles Booth archive (LSE), Clergy of the Church of England database 1540-1835, Convict transportation registers database, House of Commons parliamentary papers, John Foxe's The acts and monuments online, The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (ProQuest), John Strype's Survey of London online, London Lives 1690-1800, Nineteenth century British pamphlets,, The proceedings of the Old Bailey online 1674-1913.

Most of these resources (except are free to all or free to HE within the UK. They are all very powerful research tools in their own right.  Putting them into a cross-searchable resource enables fascinating links to be made. Ephemera take their rightful place in providing insights into our history.

You can choose which of the resources to cross-search. Clearly Crime is well represented. The John Johnson Collection Murders and Executions broadsides and other crime ephemera were digitised for the ProQuest project and a further project Mapping Crime enabled this material to be cross-searched with other collections, such as Harvard and the Old Bailey online. The addition of the Convict transportation registers database has enabled the fates of those sentenced to transportation to be traced.

Connected Histories has identified eight major research areas which will be well served by this resource and has written guides about each: Crime and justice, Family history, History of London, Imperial and colonial history, Local history, Parliamentary history, Poverty and poor relief, and  Religious history. There is a further guide on Searching for images which focuses on the John Johnson Collection and the British Museum.

You can save searches to your personal workspace, download images, etc. Connected histories is on Twitter: @connecthistory.

I searched for "frost fair" and got results from 5 resources. I could then choose to restrict these to document type, date range or availability (free or subscription).

Search for frost fair. (C) Connected histories

A search for Criminal (not a serious search of course!) returned 255,621 results across 14 resouces, including the (subscription only) Burney Collection (17th and 18th century newspapers).

Friday, 4 May 2012

Election and other ephemera at the London School of Economics

The election season is an appropriate time to focus on the holdings of the London School of Economics Library which is a major repository of political ephemera.

The Elections ephemera at the LSE Library covers general elections dating back to 1945, although there is some earlier material. The material is catalogued but not digitised.

Other online resources with digital images include Posters (Political and Tariff Reform Posters, c1892-1910; British Labour Delegation to Russia, 1920Russian Child Care posters, 1930; London County Council Election 1907) and Online exhibitions, e.g. CND, the story of a peace movement and Turning points: three key elections of the 20th century (1906, 1945, 1979).

Additionally, Fabian tracts and 19th century pamphlets are online, some through 19th century British Pamphlets online, others through the LSE itself (covering British history, Politics, Economic history, International history, Social policy, Poor laws and Welfare State, Origins of the National Health Service, Housing, Industry, Labour and the Trade Unions, Unemployment, and Transport (especially Railways).

Poster: (C) London School of Economics

Thursday, 3 May 2012

English ballads in the National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland has catalogued and digitised 2,300 English ballads, mostly 19th century. There are 23 topics. with Wars further subdivided: Courtship and marriage (383), Crime and punishment (94), Disasters (26), Elegies and laments (92), Emigration and farewells (56), Fashion (20), 'Foreigners' (23), Ireland (190), Literature and theatre (65), Misc (23), Occupations (107), Old age and death (26), Patriotism (73), Politics and government (321), Religion and morality (102), Royalty (136), Scotland (24), Slavery (10), Soldiers and sailors (177), Sons and daughters (57), Sports and entertainments (99), Temperance and various vices (50), Wars: Spanish Succession (13), Wars: Seven Year's War (7), Wars: French Revolutionary (12),  Wars: Napoleonic (62), Wars: Crimean (61), Wars: Indian (14), Wars: Other (28).

As with Word on the Street (Scottish broadsides - see blog post 30.11.11), you can browse and search. As the screen shot shows, expandable menus on the left allow you to subdivide your results by Form, Place, Subject (including further subject subdivisions), Place, People and Century. There are also transcriptions of the text. An excellent resource.

(C) National Library of Scotland

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Look and Learn: the collections of Peter Jackson, Valerie Jackson Harris and more

The collections of the late Peter Jackson and of Valerie Jackson Harris are among the very finest in private hands.  Peter Jackson collected ephemera relating to London: many of his items are not represented in any museum or library. Valerie, who trades as Quadrille and who is Chairman of The Ephemera Society, is a connoisseur of ephemera and collects only the finest, specialising in embossing, valentines, trade cards, dance and the unusual or exquisite.

Valerie is very aware that these are both museum-quality collections and that they deserve to be known and used by scholars and enthusiasts. Digitisation and the Look and Learn platform have enabled that to happen without compromising the condition and private nature of the collections. The results are a truly stunning resource, testament to Valerie's generosity of spirit and her wish to transform her late husband Peter's work and skill as a collector into a living resource for present scholars.  Work is still in progress to digitise and catalogue both collections, but there are already 19,919 images from The Peter Jackson London Collection and 629 from The Valerie Jackson Harris Collection with many thousands more to come. It is a serious and very exciting  resource for ephemerists and researchers.

Peter Jackson Collection  © 2005-2012 Look and Learn

Valerie Jackson Harris Collection  © 2005-2012 Look and Learn

I have to confess that I had never heard of the Look and Learn history picture library, which provides images for scholars and teachers but, quite apart from Valerie's and Peter's collections, it is a superb resource. Based on classic illustrated children's magazines, it has diversified to include 64,766 images from Bridgeman Education, 21,572 images from the Library of Congress and 2,161 images from IPC media.

The formula is simple. Anyone can browse free of charge.  Downloads (apart from the Library of Congress, which is free) cost £2 per image for personal or educational use.  A licence must be obtained before any usage.  There are also fees and licences for commercial use and items from the Original artwork collection may be ordered as cards (including e-Cards), posters, prints, etc.

The Peter Jackson Collection was also the subject of a beautiful and informative book, which he co-authored with Felix Barker: The pleasures of London (London, London Topographical Society, 2008).

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Magic Lantern slides at the University of Bristol

The Theatre Collections at the University of Bristol holds several sets of lantern 19th century lantern slides, which are digtiised. The images can be seen through the online catalogue but also as online slide shows. The Library holds the accompanying texts.

Christmas in Paradise (ref.TCP/LS/000003)
Rare Metal: A Story of City Life (ref.TCP/LS/000004)
The Life Boat (ref.TCP/LS/000005)
Nellie's Prayer (ref.TCP/LS/000006)
The Matron's Story (ref.TCP/LS/000007)
Little Jim (ref.TCP/LS/000008)
Scrub, the Workhouse Boy (ref.TCP/LS/000009)
Interval Slides (ref.TCP/LS/000010/001-005)
Registration Slides (ref.TCP/LS/000010/006-008)
(C) University of Bristol Theatre Collection