American Broadsides and Ephemera (1749-1900)
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Built in partnership with the American Antiquarian Society, this full-color digital edition offers fully searchable facsimiles of 15,000 broadsides printed between 1820 and 1900 and 15,000 pieces of ephemera printed between 1749 and 1900. Featuring documents produced locally across the country, these rare items vividly capture the daily lives of earlier Americans in a way that no other material can. Many are graphically stunning in contrast to most printed items of the time.
Broadsides and ephemera were an affordable way for many 18th- and 19th-century Americans to express their views, share news, or distribute their writings publicly. Nearly every town had a newspaper printer, and these printers kept their presses busy creating inexpensive material like broadsides, trade cards, billheads and ballads, much of which was subsequently destroyed by the elements, reused, or simply tossed away. This unparalleled resource is now bringing these items to light for the first time, offering researchers the possibility of fresh discovery and providing teachers with a valuable new tool for visual learners.
The remarkably diverse subjects of the broadsides in this collection range from contemporary accounts of the Civil War and natural disasters to government proclamations and town meeting reports. The collection also offers confessions of convicted criminals, theater playbills and concert programs, publishers' prospectuses, patriotic and popular songs and poems, campaign literature, items illustrating political party organizations and controversies, and much more.
The ephemera in this digital edition include a large number of detailed advertisements, often with full-color illustrations. Among them are image-rich ads for the clipper ships that sailed between the east and west coasts after the discovery of gold in California. Others include early trade cards - generally a printed notice of available goods or services - which give fresh insight into the consumer culture and business practices of the period. Billheads not only offer information about tradesmen's products and prices, but also document what consumers purchased. In addition, there are hundreds of stock certificates illustrated with manufacturers' vignettes, invitations and agendas for civic, political and private meetings, and other image-rich items.
American Broadsides and Ephemera is fully integrated into America's Historical Imprints for seamless searching with Early American Imprints, American Pamphlets, The American Civil War Collection and others.