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

Corn Products c.1912

Category
Booklet, gallery
Why It's Interesting

This is the cover of a booklet Products from Corn issued in 1912 by the Corn Products Refining Company, in Battery Park in New York City.  The booklet is quite scholarly, setting forth much about the chemistry and nutritional value of the components of corn.  It also preserves many pages of testimonials to corn issued by the Department of Agriculture and in numerous cited journals, newspapers, etc., the most recent being dated 1912.

The booklet seems to be intended to encourage greater growing of and use of corn.  How surprised its issuers would be to see that exactly 100 years later, most of our national and even international food  chain has become based on corn, and that its use as a biofuel has led corn prices upward after decades of a slow decline because of expanding supply.