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Ephemera 42

Conference and Fair

March 17 – 20, 2022
Hyatt Regency Greenwich
1800 East Putnam Avenue, Old Greenwich, Connecticut 06870

Please Note: : All attendees at the Conference and Fair will be required to show proof they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19  (a person is considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after completion of a two-dose Moderna or Pfizer series or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson series) and will be required to wear a mask.

Hyatt Regency Hotel Reservations

One of the fascinating things about society is how we create our living environments, whether it is the city or community in which we choose to live or our own living room. Ephemera 42 will focus on the design of environments, interior and exterior, ranging in scale from regional planning and urban design to the architectural detail or sidewalk lamppost. This rich topic encompasses design innovations, stylistic and regional movements, architects, landscape architects, urbanists, draftspersons, and craftspeople—anyone and anything that serves to shape the environment in which we live.

On Thursday, March 17th we will hold our Young Scholars presentation that provides a forum where undergraduate and graduate students can discuss the ways in which ephemera has informed their studies. Student presentations are lively, varied, and always offer thoughtful insights into the role ephemera has played in American cultural and social history.

On Friday, March 18th we will hold our full conference featuring nine presentations that are described below. 

On Saturday and Sunday, March 19th and 20th, 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. For more information on the fair, you can visit our show promoters website


All times are listed in Eastern Standard Time

Thursday, March 17th

4:30 pm Young Scholars Sessions

Friday, March 18th

8:45 am WelcomeBarbara Loe

Four morning conference sessions: Roundhill Room

9:00 am Shaping the Nation’s First Rural CemeteryMeg Wilson

Established in 1831 as the first rural cemetery in the nation, Mount Auburn Cemetery represents a major turning point in 19th-century attitudes about death and commemoration.  Designed by Boston horticulturalists for practical and aesthetic reasons to provide a solution to overcrowded city graveyards and to create a landscape of beauty and inspiration, it was imitated across the United States and inspired our public parks and picturesque suburbs. Letterhead, billheads, and trade cards represent nearly two centuries of interactions with families, undertakers, monument dealers, horticulturalists, surveyors, ornithologists, railroads, and sculptors, and reveal the complexity of shaping an evolving landscape that is both sacred site and pleasure ground.

9:45 am Streetviews: Walking the Ephemeral City on PaperJeffrey Cohen 

Buildings for business changed the most in the built urban landscape.  Fronts and signage in the emerging central business districts of 19th-century American cities changed from decade to decade, while office spaces congregated in increasingly tall stacks.  With commercial uses outbidding others downtown, booming land values propelled new constructive technologies, rewriting the streetscapes of the old urban core.  Architecturally, the young ate the oldOn broadsides, billheads, illustrated directories, commercial panoramas, businesses used images of their buildings as advertising (taking a back seat only to images of their products), providing our picture of the lost city. 

10:30 am Break

10:45 am Unity of Creation: Designs by Winold ReissMari Nakahara 

Unity of creation, total design coordination, is one way to enrich space. The architect and designer Winold Reiss had a hand in many of the design aspects of the interiors he created – murals, wallpaper, metalwork, furniture, menus, placemats, candy boxes. He often sketched on random pieces of paper, sometimes with multiple designs on one piece, scratched out and redrawn, items which could easily have been discarded. His interiors include designs for the Alamac Hotel, Shellball Apartments, Longschamp restaurants, Chic-n-Coop restaurant, and Restaurant Crillon. Most of his interiors no longer exist, and surviving ephemera provide a window into his work.

11:30 am Creating Amusement Parks in Western PennsylvaniaJennifer Sopko 

The confluence of several factors spurred the growth of picnic groves and amusement parks in post-Civil War America: developing industries, expanding transportation systems, evolving technology, and increased leisure time for the middle and working classes. In Western Pennsylvania, dozens of parks sprung up along electric streetcar lines, on the outskirts of towns, and in scenic rural areas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, serving as respites from the daily grind – and grime – of cities like Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Erie.

12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.  Lunch Break

1:45 pm Creating Spaces in the Movies Jeannine Oppewall  

A motion picture designer has responsibility for all the environments of any given film – anything an actor gets in front of, walks through, or drives past. To research each film, a designer scrounges from photo collections, book libraries, and clipping files in the studios’ special research libraries. Ephemera is created from the process: site plans of each location, drawings for what had to be built, as well as what had to be designed from scratch on stage – sketches, technical drawings, storyboards, schedules, photos, models, and, of course, the endless and humble lists.

2:30 pm Staging the Scene: Theater Set DesignChristine von der Linn    

Some of the master theatrical set designers of the 20th century used architecture, technology, and even paper ephemera, such as letters and photographs, to design environments that created or recreated a particular sense of place and emotion. Their physical designs, often considered ephemeral themselves, preserve those creations.   

3:15 pm Break

3:30 pm Promoting Herman Miller FurnitureJared Arp  

Herman Miller, a small furniture company located in a small mid-western town, sat at the confluence of the post-war economic boom, the explosion of suburbia, and the accelerating landscape of powerful advertising precisely when the world was looking to move beyond the dark wartime chapter and turn the page to a new bright, spacious, democratic future. By selling aspiration first and their actual product second, Herman Miller’s furniture became an indicator of status and upward mobility – thanks to founder/CEO D.J. DePree and architect/designers George Nelson and Charles Eames.

4:15 pm Lippitt House: Using Ephemera to Preserve a Victorian Home Carrie Taylor

The 1865Lippitt House in Providence, RI, has perhaps the finest original Victorian interiors in America, noteworthy for original design elements in furnishings, painted decorative ceiling and wall finishes, stained-glass, ornate plasterwork, parquetry floors, and carved woodwork. Textile magnate Henry Lippitt acted as general contractor for the house and among his archival materials in the museum’s collection are a contract memo book, invoices, and trade cards. Additional ephemera, such as sheet music, historic photos, and advertising materials, are used to help depict a robust picture to visitors of what life was like for family members and the servants who lived and worked in the house.   

5:00 pm Innovating traditional market spaces in Shanghai MinJoo Baek

In Shanghai, traditional markets have been markers of ephemeral space, found at the center of the local community and central to the local economy. Fast-changing lifestyles, the growth of large online supermarkets, and digital technological development have led to the decline of these markets. Based on field research and user interviews, this experimental research focuses on the renovation/reconstruction of an existing market to meet the modern needs of users (merchants and customers), provide a site-specific experience to attract customers from diverse generations, and offer vernacular exposure.