Out of the Ordinary: Preserving Paper-Based Ephemera


August 5, 2015 Sarah Ashlock

Out of the Ordinary
The Ephemera Society of America was a participant in and a partial sponsor of the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts’ symposium held on July 8th in Portland, Oregon.

Ephemera ConferenceThe symposium focused on the challenges institutions face in preserving a wide variety of non-standard paper items and was attended by archivists, special collections staff, and museum personnel from throughout the West (including California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Missouri), and a representative from the Tamastslikt Culture Institute of the Umatilla Tribe.

Ephemera ConferenceFollowing welcomes from CCAHA’s Director of Preservation Services and Mary Weaver Chapin, host Portland Art Museum’s Curator of Graphic Arts, the “unofficial” cheerleader of ephemera Barbara Fahs Charles kicked off the symposium with a thoughtful and fun look at the many ways ephemera can help interpret America’s heritage. Her presentation set the stage for several “best practices” presentations by conservators from the Canadian Conservation Institute and Winterthur/University of Delaware. Extensive “take home” handouts supplemented the speakers. In addition, Mary Weaver Chapin did a case study using her interest in fine art and ephemera in fin-de-siecle France and at a wrap-up session participants had an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts with the speakers. This particular symposium, titled Out of the Ordinary: Preserving Paper-Based Ephemera, was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Portland Art Museum, and the Ephemera Society of America.

Ephemera ConferenceThe ESA sponsored the morning break and Portland members mounted a small exhibition of ephemera based on the 2016 conference theme, “Politics, Patriotism & Protest”. Local members also staffed an Ephemera Society of America membership / information table featuring books on various aspects and types of ephemera and information about the ESA and its mission.

The CCAHA’s mission to provide expertise and leadership in the preservation of the world’s material culture meshes well with ESA’s. The Ephemera Society was honored to be a part of this event in support of one of those shared goals, that of preserving ephemera, and hopes to be able to partner with CCAHA and similar organizations in the future.


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