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. 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


Durfee Review 1942: Intermediate-School Magazine, Detroit

gallery, Magazine
Why It's Interesting

This is the cover of the impressive magazine published at the start of World War II by the students of the Durfee Intermediate School of Detroit.   Photos show students in activities raging from buying defense savings stamps and bonds to learning how to operate machines, boxing, studying home economics, and weaving.  The student body was a well-mixed group of white students, with its president and vice president being Lillian Rudack and Harold Cohen, and other names such as Janeway, McFarlane, and Jans.  Nevertheless, most of the boys names would have fit quite neatly into the student body of the Hebrew day school that I attended.  This surprises me a bit because Detroit was absolutely dominated by the auto business, which was notoriously restrictive in employing Jews.

There are small oval photos of hundreds of students, and many autographed the back cover of the journal.