Each year at our conference ESA provides undergraduate and graduate students a unique opportunity to share the methods they have developed to integrate ephemera into their course work and projects. We work with college and special collections librarians, and with teachers, to identify students who are using collection resources in their studies, and to invite those doing interesting work to be featured at the Young Scholars Panel during our conference. For such students to be able to deliver a talk to an interested outside audience is a unique and valuable experience.
One of the Society’s core goals is to increase understanding of the many ways in which ephemera can expand understanding of American cultural and social history. Our annual conference offers students—as well as collectors and professionals—a welcoming gathering with which to share new information based on ephemera research. The chosen Young Scholars are encouraged to continue plumbing the endless research possibilities of working with primary source materials, and to discover the joys of collecting and closely examining ephemera.
Recent student presentations have included the analysis of early 20th century college scrapbooks, the insights gained from cataloguing a wide-ranging university ephemera collection, a look into nineteenth century cultural values as revealed by images depicting African Americans, and the historic importance of bound volumes of early sheet music. During our 2021 conference, “Women Challenging Expectations”, we are anticipating a student presentation on the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage, as well as other talks.