Conference & Fair, EPHEMERA 23, March 14-16, 2003

Schedule of Speakers and Presentations

Friday, March 14, 9:00 a.m.-12:00p.m.

Photographic Ephemera
Matthew R. Isenburg

Some of the most intensely sought after pieces of ephemera are those that concern
photographica, particularly early photographica. Matthew R. Isenburg will share many of his items of photo-related ephemera with us. His presentation will offer a peek into one of the largest collections of daguerreotypes and other early images, cameras, and photo equipment in private hands and will explain how we are greatly enhanced by this ephemera.

Returning from the US Navy after World War II, Matthew R. Isenburg received his bachelor’s degree at Northeastern University where he minored in American history and became a life-long devotee to the subject. He co-authored a book in 1978 entitled Photographica, chronicling the development of the camera, and in 1989, with John Wood, founded The Daguerreian Society. Matt has been a resident of the same house in Hadlyme, Connecticut for 35 years. It is in this house that his wife and associate, Elizabeth, and his son, Steven, have started the lengthy process of cataloging his collection of almost 30,000 items for the Internet.

John H. Starin’s Glen Island Resort: Marketing the Victorian Middle Class
Michael Zmuda

During the second half of the nineteenth century, John H. Starin (1825-1909), a businessman, Congressman, and philanthropist, as well as a shipping line magnate, was renowned worldwide for his Long Island Sound resort, Starin's Glen Island. Located on five connecting islands off the shore of New Rochelle, NY, each featured a different theme exhibiting five cultures of the western world on individual islands linked together with piers and causeways. Today the islands have been merged with substantial fill areas totaling 130 acres and providing a crescent shaped beach. Michael will give his audience a glimpse of Glen Island's genteel middle class attractions from a century ago.

Michael Zmuda is the owner of Spring House Antiques and Ephemera, Carmel, NY and collects trade cards, documents, and non-sport cards.

Friday, March 14, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Hooked on Ephemera — History 101 from the Real World or Why Academic Institutions Collect Ephemera
Robert Volz

The goal of American colleges and universities is quite obviously education, and the means used to educate 21st century students in an era of media schizophrenia need to be varied, appealing, and visual. Unassuming—the uninitiated would say unsubstantial—ephemera meets these requirements and so must be considered an effective pedagogical means to be promoted by academic libraries and archives. Drawing upon the collections formed over nearly 90 years at Chapin Library, Williams College, Robert will show samples of ephemera used with classes and individual student readers and researchers. Broadsides and posters, photos and receipts routinely make teaching more vital and the lessons of history more real.

Robert Volz has served as custodian of the Chapin Library at Williams since 1977. In curating and interpreting ephemera over nearly four decades at Bowdoin College, the University of Rochester, and Williams, he has found increasing unfamiliarity among the young with the artifacts, including ephemera, that helped make up their parents' and their ancestors' lives. Robert notes that a contemporary handbill can reveal the fervor of revolutionary times better than a shelf of books, and a delousing certificate can vividly bring home what the Nazis were up to in Poland. Robert collects Chicago music ephemera, as he says, "from punk bands to Orchestra Hall" to complement his collection of Chicago music recordings.

Ephemera Tales: Touchstones to the Past
Barbara Rusch

The study of ephemera is a layered and multi-faceted endeavor. As historical evidence, its graphic, social, and commercial components have long been regarded as an appropriate field of research. But the visceral qualities of these intimate portraits of the past form an emotional legacy that is often overlooked. Every artifact retains its own imprint—its unique historical and sensory DNA—which the dedicated collector and researcher uses to extract its secrets. Candid and unscripted, the printed and handwritten flotsam and jetsam of another time offer unexpurgated glimpses into the popular culture of a vanished world and provide eloquent tributes in words and images to the lives of those through whose hands they passed. As these poignant and compelling tales are recounted, the voices of the past are heard again and their legacy reaffirmed.

Barbara Rusch has collected 19th century ephemera, both printed and handwritten, for more than 20 years. In 1987, she founded the Ephemera Society of Canada and still serves as its president. She is the editor of its publication, Ephemera Canada, writes and lectures on ephemera-related subjects, and has organized exhibitions of ephemera at museums, universities, libraries, and synagogues in the Toronto area. Barbara is the recipient of the 1989 Maurice Rickards Award and the 1992 Samuel Pepys Award.

Sunday, March 16, 8:30-11:00 a.m.

S.S. Pierce: Nineteenth Century Gourmand
Anthony Mitchell Sammarco

S.S. Pierce & Co. was known throughout the United States for its gourmet foods and liquors that were shipped with great éclat by its founder, Samuel Stillman Pierce. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Pierce (pronounced “purse”) established a corner grocery store in Boston’s West End in 1831 that evolved into a leading purveyor of such specialty items as pâté de fois gras, terrapin stew, Hawaiian pineapples, and pickled reindeer tongue—all of which makes us aware of how cosmopolitan our ancestors’ palates had become.

Anthony Mitchell Sammarco is a well-known historian and author of 40 books on the history and development of Boston, including most recently Downtown Boston Then & Now, Boston’s Financial District, and Boston’s Fenway. He collects and uses ephemera relating to Boston, Baker Chocolate Co. and, of course, S.S. Pierce to illustrate his lectures. Anthony is treasurer of a Boston-based company, teaches history at the Urban College of Boston, and serves as an officer in the New England chapter of The Victorian Society of America.

African American Ephemera
Elvin Montgomery

The history and culture of African Americans is fascinating; however, interest in African American history goes beyond discussion and is the subject of a collecting boom. Various kinds of collectors (not always who you would think) see black history ephemera as objects to savor and enjoy, to support their views, and to satisfy deep emotional needs. Join Elvin Montgomery for a fascinating journey.

Elvin Montgomery, Ph.D., is a management consultant and avid collector and dealer of African American history materials in New York City. He maintains a large, private research and reference collection that has grown since his undergraduate days at Harvard College, throughout his graduate school years at Columbia, and during his later professional life. Each February he organizes a Black History Month antiques and collectibles show and sale in New York City. Elvin recently wrote a book on collecting African American history artifacts and is conducting a study of African American collections still in private hands.

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