The Internet includes many web sites that are of
interest to ephemerists. People buy and sell ephemera through
commercial sites, are informed and entertained on educational
sites, keep up to date with forthcoming sales and auctions by
reading online versions of trade journals, and follow the activities
of organizations devoted to the study and appreciation of ephemera
by looking at web sites such as the one created and maintained
by the Ephemera Society of America.
addition, individuals interested in research can access an incredible
amount of information by using the many databases showing ephemera.
Although there are countless databases from all over the world,
three stand out because of their design and content.
Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls documents the history
of dime novels and story papers from the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. It is located at Stanford University at http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/dp/pennies/home.html.
The home page of the site points out that Stanford's Dime
Novel and Story Paper Collection consists of over 8,000 individual
items, and includes long runs of the major dime novel series (Frank
Leslies Boys of America, Happy Days, Beadles New York
Dime Library, etc.) and equally strong holdings of story papers
like the New York Ledger and Saturday Night.
Three online guided tours provide information
on the black and white print processes used to produce dime novels
and penny dreadfuls, an explanation of the elements typically
found on their covers, and other collections housed at New York
University, Syracuse University, Brandies University, and the
Library of Congress.
Users of the site can browse by title, subject,
and image (there are almost 2,400 of them), or read selected full
texts of nine novels. In addition, it is possible to search the
texts for any word.
Collage is an image database containing over 30,000
works from the Guildhall Library and Guildhall Art Gallery in
London and is available online at http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk
and at http://guildhall-art-gallery.org.uk,
which shows a connection to the first URL. In addition to paper
ephemera, Collage includes information and images of oil paintings,
watercolors, and sculptures. However, its acknowledged strength
is its 25,000 prints and drawings, as well as over 1,000 maps
devoted primarily to London topography and London life from the
fifteenth century to the present day.
With a specific inquiry, Collage can be searched
by keyword. The database can also be searched by artist, engraver,
publisher, people, and places. Further, users can browse through
the collection by selecting a theme: history, leisure, politics,
trade and industry, etc.
Collages exhibitions section features eight
shows, including one of truly ephemeral items: discarded designs
and rejected plans of London buildings.
Finally, the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet
Music is part of the special collections department of the Milton
S. Eisenhower Library of Johns Hopkins University. Its online
database contains approximately 30,000 items and focuses on popular
American music spanning the period 1780-1960. All pieces of the
collection are indexed in the database and a query retrieves a
catalog description, as well as an image of the cover and each
page of music if the item was published before 1923 and is in
the public domain. The Levy collection is located at http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/.
Lester S, Levy was a musicologist, graduate of
Johns Hopkinsclass of 1918, and a Baltimore businessman
and philanthropist. As his collection grew, Levy acquired the
expertise to write four books, culminating in a study of the lithographer's
art, Picture the Songs: Lithographs from the Sheet Music of Nineteenth
Century America, published in 1976 by Johns Hopkins.
Users can both browse the collection and search
for specifics. For example, an engraver/artist search for Charles
Magnus results in seven hits; George Gershwin is represented by
43 titles; Sousa yields 170 documents, including some colorful
sheet music covers; and Star Spangled Banner produces
Each of these databases is accessible through the
Ephemera Societys Web site. Please plan to visit!
E. Richard McKinstry