Celebrate Thanksgiving with Ephemera!


November 26, 2015 Sarah Ashlock

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
― W. Clement Stone

The Ephemera Society of America cultivates an interest in ephemera, and in the spirit of this fine holiday, we want to share some fascinating Thanksgiving ephemera. Check out these Turkey Day labels, trade cards, and postcards:

Richard McKinstry, Library Director and Andrew W. Mellon Senior Librarian at The Winterthur Library, shared the labels and trade cards from The Winterthur Library, The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection.

The labels, based on a stamp, are dated from 1923, and the trade cards are undated. McKinstry says "The trade cards appear to be part of or a complete series of Thanksgiving cards issued by Edwd. Ridley & Sons of New York, corner of Grand and Allen Streets. The company sold mens and boys suits, ladies and misses suits, dress goods, skirts, shawls, etc."

Daniel Gifford, Ph.D, author of American Holiday Postcards 1905-1915 and manager of Museum Advisory Committees at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, shared the postcards.

He says, "The postcard fad of the early 20th century coincided with two other cultural forces--the introduction (and subsequent popularity) of the Rural Free Delivery, and the continuing flow of men and women from rural households into urban areas. Both help explain why Thanksgiving in postcards is almost always imagined as a rural festival. In card after card, families gather not in fashionable brownstones, city restaurants, or in bedroom communities along trolley and tram routes, but in rural farms and farmsteads. Rural Americans used postcards to help reaffirm their status in American culture, even as their ranks were dwindling; while urban Americans looked with nostalgia upon rural Thanksgivings, an idealized version of what was left behind, often only a generation ago. Sometimes the images could take fantastical turns or draw from pilgrim mythologies, but almost without fail they situated their visions of Thanksgiving in the countryside."




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