Ephemera are traces of the everyday—materials, usually printed, designed to be read or consumed in some way and then discarded. From bus tickets to party invitations, dance cards to advertisements, these items form the texture of social and commercial exchange. As such, the ephemera on display in Ephemeral by Design: Organizing the Everyday reveal different cultural values of the past: reading habits, consumer preferences, aesthetic sensibilities. Whether studied as forensic evidence of a bygone era or as a link in the progression of printing history, ephemera can almost always be appreciated for their wry messages, bold color schemes, or innovative designs.
Ephemeral by Design displays some of the highlights from an ongoing project to catalog nearly 30,000 items from the Newberry’s John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing. The Wing collection embraces numerous kinds of ephemera, including, but not limited to type specimens, advertising trade cards, letterheads, and stationery.
The cataloging project from which the items in Ephemeral by Design have been selected is supported by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Free and open to the public.