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Emerging Scholars Initiative

The annual Ephemera Society of America (ESA) conference 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 encourage faculty and university / special collections librarians to identify students who use collection resources in their studies, and to invite those doing interesting work to make a presentation at the annual Emerging Scholars Panel.

One of ESA’s core goals is to increase understanding of the diverse ways ephemera expands an understanding of American cultural and social history. Our annual conference offers students—as well as collectors and professionals—a welcoming audience with which to share new information based on ephemera research. The chosen Emerging 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 presentations have included an 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, the historic importance of bound volumes of early sheet music, and during our 2021 conference, “Women Challenging Expectations,” student presentations on the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage.

The 2022 ESA Conference, “Creating Places and Spaces,” featured graduate student Rachel Kane who used ephemera to illustrate her lively and informative talk, “Home Making for Future Homemakers: Paper Doll Houses and Instructive Womanhood in the Early 20th Century.”

In 2023 Aaron Castillo presented on Urban Renewal Ephemera: Re-Membering Forgotten Communities; Zane Jones discussed Historical Narrative through Scrapbook Ephemera; and Traci Picard presented In the Absence of: Bringing people to life through the Providence Writs and Warrants.

Our most recent emerging scholar presentation during Ephemera 44 featured Meredith G. Santaus who discussed Pseudo-Ephemera: Book Artists, Preservation, and Protest. 

We encourage young scholars to join the Ephemera Society of America and utilize the resources we provide to illuminate ephemera inquiry. And we are always pleased to offer young scholars the opportunity to present research projects at our annual conference.

Come join us!

The Ephemera Society of America invites applications for the Philip Jones Fellowship for the Study of Ephemera. This competition, now in its thirteenth year, is open to any interested individual or organization for the study of any aspect of ephemera, defined as minor (and sometimes major) everyday documents intended for one-time or short-term use.