Conference & Fair EPHEMERA/19  March 12-14, 1999

Schedule of Speakers and Presentations

Friday, March 12 10 a.m.-Noon

Ephemera Collections at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Fath Davis Ruffins

The head of the Advertising History Collections will give a brief overview of the history of the collections at the National Museum, how they came to be acquired, and their usefulness for historical inquiry. These "Business Americana" collections were based on the massive Warshaw ephemera collection, the Norcross and Rustcraft greeting card collection, and the N.W Ayer Advertising Tearsheets and Proofsheets Collections. However, over the last 15 years, the collections have expanded dramatically to include WWI and WWII posters, illus-trated sheet music, additional world's fair material, sports cards, and other ephemera. Also, in the last 10 years, the holdings in radio, film, television, and other moving image and broadcast material has increased as well. This illustrated lecture will provide an introduction to and an overview about the national historical ephemera collections.

Fath Davis Ruffins has been a historian at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution since 1981. Since 1988 she has been the head of the Collection of Advertising History which contains some of the largest American ephemera collections in the country. She has curated exhibitions at the Smithsonian and elsewhere, most recently co-curating "A Collector's Vision of Puerto Rico." Her most recent pub-lication is Reflecting on Ethnic Imagery in the Landscape of Commerce 1945-1975 in Getting and Spending: European and American Consumer Societies in the Twentieth Century.

The Albany Army Relief Bazaar
Christine Heidorf

An extraordinary event took place 135 years ago in downtown Albany, New York. In the midst of the Civil War, a group of citizens organized and managed an ambitious public fair to raise money for the sick and wounded soldiers of the Union Army. The Albany Army Relief Bazaar was not an isolated event. Beginning in the fall of 1863 and continuing into 1864, there were other such fairs in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Brooklyn, Boston, and even Poughkeepsie. All of the fairs were organized around the needs of a civilian-run organization whose purpose was to look after the medical and health-related concerns of a large volunteer army. That group was the United States Sanitary Commission, a federally sanctioned civilian-run organization. The Albany Relief Bazaar opened on Washington's birthday-February 22, 1864. Altogether there were 30 "booths" in the Bazaar building, representing local communities and foreign countries. When all was settled, the Albany Bazaar raised $81,908.50-the fourth highest total raised by any Sanitary Fair in the country. This presentation will focus on the desperate need of the sick and wounded soldiers of the Union Army, why the Sanitary Commission was neces-sary to the war effort, and how the local communities participated directly with this vital organization.

Christine Heidorf has worked in the museum field since 1981, first as registrar and collections manager at the Albany Institute of History and Art for nine years, then as curator at Historic Cherry Hill for eight years. She was recently named collections manager at the Historical Society of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga County Historical Society. Because of a life-long interest in the Civil War, Christine began seriously research-ing the Northern Homefront in 1991, which led to her research on the Albany Army Relief Association. Christine makes her home in Gansevoort, New York, with her husband and daughter.

Friday, March 12 1-4 p.m.

Teddy Roosevelt: A Permanent American Treasure
James Corsaro

Theodore Roosevelt and his image are a permanent part of American culture. Born to wealth and bred with a strong sense of responsible citizenship, Roosevelt served his state and nation in many ways, including both the lesser offices of commissioner of the U.S. Civil Service Commission and New York City Police, and as governor of New York and president. However, public service was only a part of this modern-day "Renaissance Man." He wrote nearly 40 books and hundreds of magazine articles and speeches; was a learned naturalist and ornithologist; a hunter and world traveler; and a wonderful father. TR's image has become a cultural icon in America and throughout the world. The New York State Library has an exceptional collection of man-uscripts, books, sheet music, postcards, and other ephemera about this great American, much of it recently acquired from a single collector, Lyall Squair of Syracuse, New York. This presentation will discuss Roosevelt's life and image as represented in the collections of the library.

James Corsaro is the head of the Manuscripts and Special Collections unit of the New York State Library. He was educated at the universities of Buffalo and Albany and has been a librarian in the state library for three decades. A member, and at times officer, of several archival and library organizations, he has published in the field of archives and map librarianship. The collections he manages cover the whole range of archival and printed material including such ephemera as postcards, sheet music, trade catalogs, and other formats.

Up the Garden Path: Turn of the Century Seedswomen and Their Catalogs
Marjorie R Norcross

Horticulture, which provided Victorian women with tools for shap-ing the morals and esthetics of their families, as well as relieving their own boredom, can also be credited with turning them into respectable business women. Contemporary society acknowledged that women were superior in floral pursuits. Furthermore, success in floriculture had increased their self-confidence and curiosity. Throughout most of the 19th century the pursuit of business was impossible for any woman who wished to retain her respectability, and thus her prospects for mar-riage. However by the 1880s women were entering commerce, especial-ly those who felt (as the April 1888 issue of Godey's Lady's Book describes) "the spur of necessity of providing for children or aged rel-atives." Because society associated floriculture with femininity, women were turning this avocation into a vocation. Mrs. Norcross will illus-trate this trend with catalogs from individual seedswomen as well as others targeting women as customers.

Marjorie Norcross has been collecting horticultural ephemera for the past decade. Vermont natives, she and her husband live in Vestal, New York. While researching Victorian gardens at nearby Cornell University's Bailey Hortorium Catalog collection, she became fascinated by the wealth of cultural information presented. Her collection includes cata-logs, diecuts, trade cards, chromolithographs, billheads, corner covers, books, seed packs, and pamphlets as well as contemporary examples of reproductions for gift and advertising use. She credits the Society for fos-tering the study of ephemera and her family for supporting, even encour-aging, the collector's "habit."

Saturday, March 13 7:30 p.m. Banquet

The History of Baker's Chocolate: A Delicious Memory from the Past
Anthony M Sammarco

When one thinks of chocolate, the name "Baker's Chocolate" comes to mind. The trademark chocolate woman reminds us of our fondest memories of luscious eating and baking chocolate. This pre-sentation outlines the history of the company beginning with the estab-lishment of the first chocolate mill in America, founded by Dr. James Baker and his chocolate maker John Hannon, in a converted wooden mill on the banks of the Neponset River in Massachusetts. Within a century, the company-known as the Walter Baker Company, Ltd.-had become known throughout the world as the oldest manufacturer of chocolate in the United States. Sammarco's lecture and accompanying photographic slides are full of detail, at once obscure and interesting, while his love and respect for history and his subject matter is infectious to his audience.

Anthony M. Sammarco has been called "Boston's premier amateur historian" by the Boston Globe, but his interest in the history and devel-opment of his native city as led to the publication of more than 25 pho-tographic histories that include The Great Boston Fire of 1872, Boston: A Century of Progress, and recently Boston's Harbor Islands. He has lectured frequently on local Boston history, writes newspaper columns for numerous newspapers, and is a prolific author. His efforts to make histo-ry more accessible to the general public have led to many awards and honors.

Sunday, March 14 9 a.m.-Noon

19th-Century American Color Plate Books
William Reese

This presentation will discuss color plate books printed in the United States (and to some degree elsewhere in the Americas) and published during the 19th century. It will trace the development of the use of color illustration in books from tentative beginnings to the appearance of illustration with tri-chromatic halftones at the end of the century and will give an overview of the genre. The first American color plate book, William Birch's The City of Philadelphia in the Year 1800, was printed from engraved copper plates. As technologies evolved, plates were produced by woodcut, aquatint, lithograph, chromolithograph, nature printing, and a variety of photomechanical processes. Works embraced a wide variety of topics, includ-ing natural history, view books, drawing instruction, native Americans, fashion, gift books, travel narratives, science, architecture, and trade catalogues. Despite this diversity, the cost of these books made them difficult to market in 19th-century America, and books with color illustrations had a markedly different history than other forms of color printing work.

William Reese, a rare book dealer in New Haven, Connecticut, began his career as a bookseller at the age of 19, while a student at Yale. He has subsequently become one of the foremost dealers of antiquarian books, respected not only for his expertise in his field, but also for his scholar-ship and personal integrity. He publishes 10 large catalogs a year in his specialties of Americana, voyages and travel, and literature-as well as a number of smaller special subject lists. He resides in Connecticut with his wife.

Pump and Circumstance: Gas Stations
John Margolies

John Margolies traces the entertaining and significant tradition of gas station design, history, and lore--from horse-drawn pumps at the turn of the century to the convenience stores and self-serve pumpers of today. Particular attention is given to "the golden age" from 1920 to 1940, when humble curbside stations evolved into palaces of petroleum. Then, the whole experience became much more than just filling the tank: attendants in spiffy uniforms bustled about among gleaming pumps, eye-catching signs, and strings of pennants flapping in the wind.

Margolies brings this era back to life by combing rare archival photographs, postcards, advertisements, and other service station artifacts and collectibles with his own trademark color photographs. He delves into such diverse and unusual topics as the hoopla of the sparkling and sometimes not-so-sparkling rest rooms; the evolution of road maps; and the development of gas pumps from jerrybuilt hot water tanks to the sleek, computerized vending machines of today.

John Margolies is an author, photographer, and lecturer on American popular culture and commercial design. In the past 25 years he has explored the highways and byways of the United States in search of unique and typical examples of roadside, main street, and resort architecture. A few of his major books include Fun Along the Road: American Tourist Attractions, Home Away from Home: Motels in America, and Pump and Circumstance: Glory Days of the Gas Station. In 1997 The History Channel presented a television special, "Highway Hangouts: Celebrating Roadside America," based upon his books and photographs. Mr. Margolies has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and several fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts.

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