Remnants of Everyday Life: Introduction

NEXT > Section 2: What is Ephemera

Ephemera–in the form of playbills, tickets, forms, broadsides, and fliers–was destined to be filed away, thrown in the trash, or recycled. Its short life cycle was often belied, however, by its visual impact, created through judicious choices of typeface, color, and graphics. At work, at home, and on the streets, old and young, rich and poor participated in a vibrant popular culture whose medium was printed ephemera.

Today, the surviving remnants of previous generations can seem disconcertingly familiar and mundane…but also sensational. The intentionally eye-catching miscellany of yesteryear proves endlessly engaging. And by providing a captivating window into the ordinary lives of our predecessors, these disposable scraps have become indispensable resources.

Remnants of Everyday Life: Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home explores the stories behind the production, dissemination, and preservation of these mesmerizing bits and pieces, and shows how their evolution, while being intrinsically tied to changes in mass production technologies, corresponded with shifts in cultural values and priorities.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

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