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Unexpected Images: Ephemera

A guide to "hidden" image collections in text-based databases and other resources for finding archival images.

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University of Washington Libraries | Historical Menus Collection

NYPL Digital Gallery | Miss Frank E. Buttolph American Menu Collection

Los Angeles Public Library | Regional History | Menu Collection

Databases

American Broadsides and Ephemera

Based on the American Antiquarian Society's landmark collection. Offers fully searchable facsimile images of approximately 15,000 broadsides printed between 1820 and 1900 and 15,000 pieces of ephemera printed between 1760 and 1900. The remarkably diverse subjects of these broadsides range from contemporary accounts of the Civil War, unusual occurrences and natural disasters to official government proclamations, tax bills and town meeting reports. Featuring many rare items, the pieces of ephemera include clipper ship sailing cards, early trade cards, bill heads, theater and music programs, stock certificates, menus and invitations documenting civic, political and private celebrations.

Images of the American Civil War: Photographs, Posters & Ephemera

The dramatic imagery of nineteenth-century Americana as experienced from the social, military, and political perspectives. At completion, the collection will present 75,000 images drawn from archives around the country, documenting the camp and battle experiences of Union and Confederate soldiers of all ranks, time spent in hospitals and in prisons, civilian life in cities and towns close to and far from the front lines of war, and the demeanor of the politicians whose decisions could bring the nation together or tear it apart. Many of the images in the collection were captured by famous and lesser-known innovators working with the burgeoning medium of nineteenth-century photography. Additionally, graphical content such as envelopes, song sheets, recruiting posters, imprints, and cartoons give users the ability to research how wartime America illustrated their times visually.

Popular literature, fiction and songs in Russia

The colorful cheap stories and songbooks that flooded Russia during the last half century of the old regime exemplify the richness of the Russian popular imagination. The literature of the lubok, named for the prints that circulated in the same milieu, was a ubiquitous expression of popular taste. The collection illustrates the chief genres of Russian popular literature and includes chivalric tales, historical fiction and updated fairy tales, as well as stories of adventure, banditry, detectives, success, war and empire, women and gender.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Database of primary sources including a variety of material types: monographs, newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, ephemera, maps, statistics, and more. Materials cover a wide range of academic disciplines and areas of study and include works in Western and non-Western languages.

 

Other Ephemera

Trade Cards:

A Nation of Shopkeepers: Trade Ephemera from 1654-1860 in the John Johnson Collection (Bodleian Library, Oxford)

Trade Catalogs in the University of Delaware Library

Nineteenth-Century American Trade Card (Harvard University; search also via the Harvard Visual Information Access System)

The Trade Card Place


Sheet Music:

Center for Popular Music, Middle Tennessee State University (Database of American vernacular sheet music & broadsides)

Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins University

Historic American Sheet Music, Duke University Digital Collection


General:

New York Public Library's Digital Collections, as illustrated at right

Michael Peich's T209 Contentnea Baseball Cards (produced by tobacco company Erwin-Nadal, ca.1909-1910)

John and Carolyn Grossman Collection of paper ephemera (Winterthur Library)

Sheaff: ephemera

Victorian Treasury (specialty in the history of the Valentine card)

Flickr Commons: Search for Ephemera

Sheet Music

From New York Public Library's Digital Collections:

After you’re gone / by Creamer... Digital ID: g98c172_001. New York Public Library

After you're gone / by Creamer and Layton.  [National Endowment for the Arts Millenium Project.] (c1918)
Creator: Layton, J. Turner, 1894-1978 -- Composer
Additional Name(s): Creamer, Henry, 1879-1930 -- Lyricist
Walton, C. E. -- Illustrator
Created Date: c1918
Specific Material Type: scores
Source: American popular songs / Sheet music, 1918
Location: The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts / Music Division
Image ID: g98c172_001