Ephemera Journal, Volume XI
While many Ephemera Society of America members derive enjoyment
and satisfaction through toiling to find ephemera, other members
curators, historians, educators, exhibition designers
command ephemera to do their bidding. They've learned to mine veins
of ephemera for the history it contains. They put it to work informing
audiences in ways that other media can't. Ephemera to them become
visual footnotes that contain so much more meat than dry text. In
some cases, early ephemeral forms provide the inspiration for telling
stories that otherwise would be next to impossible to communicate.
This issue of the The Ephemera Journal looks at how two
long-time collectors have put ephemera to work for them and for
thousands of others.
Barbara Fahs Charles and Robert Staples have become masters at
weaving ephemera into the designs they've crafted for the international
museum community over the last 30 years. Their most recent effort
opened December 15, 2005 in Philadelphia's National Constitution
Center to celebrate the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. The 8,000-square-foot
exhibit contains a series of interactive exhibits some of
them inspired by ephemera as well as the largest collection
of Franklin materials, ephemeral and otherwise, ever assembled.
Barbara Charles's article offers an insider's look at
how ephemera can be put to work to increase our public understanding
of complex topics. As a bonus, there's even a gem by Franklin
himself on life's ephemeral nature.
While an aging Franklin may have reflected on things ephemeral,
that may not be true of many of the young men and women enrolled
at Williams College, unless, of course, they've met Robert
Volz. Volz has served as custodian of the Chapin Library of Rare
Books at Williams since 1977, with its more than 100,000 manuscripts,
historical prints, photographs, and individual pieces of ephemera.
His passion is using the college's ephemera collection to make
abstract humanities lessons more tangible. In his article for The
Ephemera Journal Volz reflects on putting specific ephemera
to work with class after class. From Martin Luther to Princess Diana,
Volz exposes students to bits of paper that add a spark of the real
world to textbooks and lectures.
Available for $18.00; $15.00 to members of the Ephemera Society;
plus $3.00 for postage. Order from the Ephemera Society of America,
PO Box 95, Cazenovia, NY 13035 or visit the online