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

Introducing Women to Showers, c.1905?

Category
Booklet, gallery
Date

1900-09?

Why It's Interesting

As we move toward the close of women’s history month, this neat image sums up advertising that tried to introduce women to the luxury and pleasures of showers, rather than traditional baths.  It also suggests that women were encouraged to take light exercise as part of their toilette.  Other full-page drawings show women taking showers, hiding behind the curtain, and small vignettes show active women playing tennis and golf, and riding horses.  There are good full-page drawings of the mechanism and o0verall bath tub.

This booklet, which I believe dates to between 1900 and 1909 is entitled For Beauty’s Sake and was issued by the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Co.  It opens with an oval portrait of a Restoration beauty and the quote: “Woman perfected Earth’s Fairest Flower.”