Long Range Plan Redux

In 1999, the board of the Ephemera Society passed a long range plan that charted the course of the activities of the organization for five years, through 2004 and up to the society's 25th birthday celebrations, forthcoming in 2005.

The vision was clear.  Members of the board identified the society as "an acknowledged leader in promoting the collecting, study, preservation, and exhibition of paper ephemera."  Further, the board dedicated its efforts to "maintaining its [the society's] preeminent position by continually providing opportunities for enhancing the appreciation of ephemera as an important part of America's cultural tradition."

The mission of the society was and is to cultivate an interest in ephemera and the history identified with it; to further the understanding and appreciation of ephemera by people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of interest; to promote collecting; to contribute to the cultural life of those who have an interest in the past; and, as an organization, to serve as a link among collectors, dealers, institutions, and scholars. 

The board wanted to increase membership and to more evenly distribute it geographically across the United States.  While most members still come from the Northeast corridor—Maine to Washington, DC—the society made significant gains in the West thanks to regional meetings in California, participation in the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History in Portland, Oregon in 2002, and our presence at the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair early in 2004.

We increased the number of life members to seven, and the number of people in other premium membership categories now includes almost 100 individuals.  Institution, library, and museum members number about 70.  The society includes 34 international members from eight foreign countries, including Canada, England, Belgium, Australia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, and Mexico.  Plus, there are two corporate sponsors, thanks to a special initiative designed to attract support from the for-profit sector.

Recognizing the need to keep up in an ever advancing electronic age, the board authorized the development of a web site (http://www.ephemerasociety.org).  Recently redesigned, the site features areas devoted to society events, publications, articles, and exhibitions, a question-answer section, society store, schedules of conferences, a bibliography of ephemera writings, and links to other web sites on ephemera.  Attesting to the importance of the site, the society now attracts most of its new members online.  In 2002, the web site received a Golden Web Award for excellence from the American Association of Webmasters.

In addition to offering online resources, the society maintains its active publications program with improved numbers of Ephemera News, a quarterly that now features splashes of color, and Ephemera Journal, a scholarly periodical issued every two years and now abstracted for the academic community in publications issued by the American Bibliographical Center-CLIO Press.  Other society publications include an annual membership directory and, most lately, catalogs issued to accompany auctions at our annual meetings.

For the first time, the society established an archive of its records, dating from 1980, reasoning that if we existed to publicize the importance of ephemera in our nation's history, we should likewise consider our own records important enough to maintain.  From a few boxes, the archive has grown to number 24; in addition, there are dozens of books on ephemera in the archive.  Members very kindly donated memorabilia they had from years past, we assembled full runs of society publications, and to add an international component we acquired all issues of The Ephemerist, the English ephemera society's quarterly newsletter.  The archive is located in the library of Winterthur Museum, near Wilmington, Del., and is open to anyone wishing to see it.

In 1999, Northeast Journal editor Harold Hanson approached the society about contributing a monthly column.  As president at the time, it was easy for me to say yes and to assume the responsibility of writing them.  Over the course of six years, the Journal has published nearly 60 pieces, ranging from reports about our various conferences and fairs to a column on the bibliography of ephemera, from a brief historical sketch of the society to a report on the 25th anniversary celebration of the English ephemera society in London at the Russell Hotel, which I attended.  As I end this final column, I thank Harold for the opportunity to publicize the Ephemera Society's activities.  We have almost 25 years behind us; many more lie ahead in which the society will move forward, engaging the interests of new generations of ephemerists.

E. Richard McKinstry
Past President

PS: Congratulations to the Poster Stamp Society for having such a successful meeting in St. Louis. Read all about it in the April 2004 issue of The Poster Stamp Bulletin.

[This article originally appeared in the Northeast Journal of Antiques & Art.]

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America