Mark your calendar for the Ephemera Society of America’s annual conference and fair in Old Greenwich, CT.  The theme is Women Challenging Expectations and will take place March 19-21, 2021.

As you all know, this conference had been scheduled for March 2020, but had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. We plan and expect to have the same speakers who had been scheduled for 2020, as reflected in the information below. However, it is possible that scheduling conflicts might necessitate some changes, and also an additional presenter or two might be added; this page will be updated between now and the conference in March 2021 to detail any changes to the roster of speakers.

We have lined up an impressive group of speakers, who will use ephemera to highlight some quite amazing women.

For the centenary of the 19th Amendment it was natural to choose a conference topic focused on women. And, to kick off our event, attendees who come early, on Thursday, may attend an afternoon young scholar presentation on the use of ephemera by college students in the classroom. Professor Heidi Herr and students at Johns Hopkins University will reveal what suffrage ephemera can mean today.

For the full conference on Friday, March 19th we will leave the Suffragists and turn to the surprising lives of women across centuries and cultures. Lisa Baskin will speak from her broad-based collection of ephemera interpreting working women, placed at Duke University. A woman who became an advertising icon – journalist Elizabeth Cochrane as Nellie Bly – will be described by journalism Professor Brooke Kroeger of New York University. From West Texas in the 19th century and Australia in the early 20th century comes evidence of strong women Johanna Wilhelm and Annie Tankesley, presented by writer Virginia Noekle, and Doris Blackburn, by writer Amanda Bede. Princeton University’s archive of Sylvia Beach adds 1920s Paris literary ephemera to writer Caroline Preston’s inherited personal collection of the founder of famous bookshop Shakespeare and Company, Research notes preserved at the American Philosophical Society enhance an understanding of the work of geneticist Barbara McClintock, researched by archivist Susan Anderson Laquer. Ph.D. candidate Jennie Waldow from Stanford University will bring us into the late 20th century with an exploration of the influence of Lucy Lippard on political art.

On Saturday and Sunday March 20th and 21st, the ESA will present our widely anticipated ephemera fair which is considered to be the premier event in the country. There will be exceptional material from a broad spectrum of knowledgeable and experienced dealers, displaying an array of materials on countless topics. The materials are rich in content, desirable to the eye, entertaining and whimsical — choose your favorite adjective and it will apply. The Fair runs from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, with an early preview for Ephemera Society members only at 9 am. On Sunday the Fair runs from 11 am to 4 pm. You can attend just the Fair if you are not able or interested in attending the conference. 

Following the Fair on Saturday, the Ephemera Society will hold its annual fund-raising auction, preceded by cocktails and followed by our banquet, open by reservation to all ESA members. For a light-hearted accompaniment to the Saturday banquet, collector Barbara Rusch (who owns a pair of Queen Victoria’s knickers) will introduce women who defied the constraint of Victorian undergarments. A game of E-FEM-ERA Jeopardy will follow that presentation.

An exhibit of material collected around the theme of Women Challenging Expectations will be on display throughout the three-day conference. Sunday morning will feature our Exhibitor Roundtable where exhibitors will have the opportunity to describe their themes and the significance of the pieces they selected.