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

Buffalo-Shaped Building; Pan-American Expo 1901

Category
gallery, Magazine
Date

1899

Why It's Interesting

This is taken from an 1899 magazine called Our Times (December 1), that summarized world events, especially for students.  This shows the giant buffalo-shaped building projected for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, NY.  This structure does not appear in any of the guidebooks to the Fair that I have collected, and I have found no other reference to it.  It surely would have been a sight to behold.

Our Times is one of the most interesting magazines I have come across. I just acquired 5 issues from 1899, and the subjects they address include Jews colonizing Palestine, the founding of the first auto club, motorcycles, wireless telegraphy, the Paris Expo of 1900, and so much more.  Only 5 libraries report owning any copies of this title.