This website seeks to encourage researchers and collectors to discover and study obscure ephemera that document American culture and life.  Worldcat reveals that most of the items that I post cannot be found in more than a few research libraries–often none at all.  Alternately, research libraries do not bother to catalog ephemeral publications like these.  I believe, however, that because these were distributed free, or at nominal cost, to consumers, they were the publications most likely to make their way into homes and be read by large numbers of Americans.

I acquire pre-1960 examples of the kinds of publications that prove so useful when scholars study 19th-Century America.  The limited competition that I encounter for them suggests that libraries, which could easily outbid me, have little interest in post-Civil War and 20th-century ephemeral publications in general.

I try to anticipate what materials future historians will find useful.  Being an historian first and a collector second, I organized this website to encourage others to do this too—even if this means new competition for me. I am aware that I could be wrong in prizing particular ephemera or even whole classes of ephemera.  I may even be wrong to encourage scholars to study obscure ephemeral publications; these may be obscure for good reason.

Ephemerastudies.org will permit me to share with others the information and imagery that I am acquiring, and to benefit from the knowledge, intelligence and experience of other scholars and collectors.  Please contact me with your impressions of the site.

~ Saul Zalesch

Bringing History to Life

This site is devoted to the identification, preservation, publicizing, and study of ephemeral publications that provide more-nuanced pictures of American culture and life. Because intended to aid scholars as well as collectors, this site focuses on artifacts preserving obscure information and imagery. (It excludes already-familiar ephemera such as posters, labels, famous comic books, and most cards).

The main feature of this site is a gallery of images chosen for their aesthetic and/or documentary value.  Different items are spotlighted from week to week.   All items posted are in my collection–unless they have been already donated to institutions.  Feel free to borrow images from this site, so long as you use the credit line www.ephemerastudies.org.  Please let me know if you do use one of these images.    Scholars seeking certain kinds of publications or images can email me at szalesch@latech.edu, and I may be able to help.

THIS SITE NOW PRESENTS OVER 500 IMAGES.  PLEASE CLICK ON THE GALLERY LINK ABOVE TO SEE EARLIER POSTINGS.  CLICK ON THE PAGE NUMBERS ON THE RIGHT, ABOVE THE IMAGES, TO NAVIGATE THE GALLERY.

Ephemera Society of America