The Library Company of Philadelphia began collecting ephemera in 1785, when it acquired the Pierre Eugène Du Simitière Collection of Revolutionary War-era pamphlets and broadsides, and has been a pioneer in the emergent research uses of early American printed ephemera. With the purchase of the Joe Freedman Collection of Philadelphia Ephemera in fall 2013, the Library’s printed and graphic ephemera collections number nearly 40,000 items and comprise diverse holdings of material related to popular and visual culture, with particular strengths in the history of women, medicine, African-Americana, German-Americana, and economics. Almost 30, 000 pieces as well as over 7,000 representative digital files of these holdings are available in the Library’s online catalogs WolfPAC and ImPAC; many thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities completed in 2012.
In 2008, to foster the research of such historic visual materials, the Library Company established its Visual Culture Program . Implemented to showcase the visual materials in both our graphics and book collections, VCP is dedicated to promoting the importance of historical images as primary source material for studying the past. The Program fosters the research, collection, and interpretation of historic visual material through exhibitions, research fellowships, conferences, and public programs.
To further examine and showcase the ephemera in the Library’s collections produced Remnants of Everyday Life: Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home on display May 13-January 2, 2014. Ephemera Online continues this examination.