The broad program starts with a reception and tour of the corresponding exhibition Remnants of Everyday Life:Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home on the evening of September 19. Participants will learn more about the Library Company's vast holdings of ephemera from the 18th to the early-20th centuries from curators and VCP co-directors Rachel D’Agostino and Erika Piola. As Ms. D’Agostino explains, “the challenge for us was to bring these collections to the awareness of the public, and to suggest the kinds of discoveries that could be made by a closer examination of them.” With materials ranging from items destined for disposal to collectibles of personal significance to finely printed works, the exhibition explores the history of graphic design, the changing nature of 19th-century leisure activities, and the impact of popular print media and fads on Victorian-era consumerism.
On Friday, these themes will be further examined by scholars of historical ephemera. Panelists will discuss the artistry involved in the production of trade cards and the assembly of scrapbooks, the creation of institutional collections of ephemera, and the impact of mass photographic production on 19th-century visual and popular culture.
The conference serves as another of the many initiatives by the Ephemera Society of America to raise awareness of this print genre. Founded in 1980, the Society cultivates and encourages interest in ephemera, as well as the history identified with it. The Society’s wide constituency includes collectors, dealers, scholars, and institutions like the Library Company and fellow conference co-sponsor the Print Center.
Following Friday’s panel discussions, a reception will be held at the Print Center, one of the first venues in the country dedicated to the appreciation of prints. During the reception, attendees will be able to view Ephemeral Sprawl, an exhibition of contemporary printed ephemera inspired by Remnants and Unmediated History and co-curated by the Print Center and Printeresting, “a collaborative art blog and occasional arts producer.” Personal ephemera from the collections of Ms. D’Agostino and Ms. Piola will be on exhibit for the culminating event of the conference.