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

Title

1916 Charity Bazar for German War Widows

Category
Book, gallery
Date

1916

Why It's Interesting

This fascinating program for a bazar held at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1916 reminds us that before America entered World War I, more citizens probably favored the Axis than the Allies because being of German or Irish descent.  This program preserves a floor plan for the bazar, has many full page ads for banks and one for Budweiser, and has photos of those who organized the bazar and lists of the names of committee members, sponsors, patrons, and supporters.  Many of the officers shown were Jewish, including its Chairman Emanuel Baruch, demonstrating that the anti-Semitism identified with Germany was either not then active or set aside for the occasion.  Several celebrities lent their names to this cause, including opera singer Mme Schumann-Heink.

It seems likely that these Americans regretted their participation as soon as America entered the War.  Anti-German sentiment was much stronger during WWI than during WWII–when the Germans actually earned the kind of savage propaganda that was the norm from 1917-19. Baltimore, where I grew up, renamed German Street Redwood Street, after the first American killed in battle.  I suspect that copies of this program were quickly destroyed or discarded from simple prudence.  Only one library reports possessing a copy.