Library Company Receives NEH Grant to Catalog and Digitize Its 18th- and 19th-Century Ephemera Collections

With the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Library Company will catalog, conserve, and selectively digitize between Spring 2010 and 2012 its uncataloged and recently donated collections of printed and graphic ephemera from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The grant will enable the Library Company to catalog, conserve, and selectively digitize its uncataloged and recently donated collections of printed and graphic ephemera. These collections constitute a rich primary source for historians as they open a valuable window into the lives of ordinary Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Library Company has been collecting ephemera since 1785, and today holds one of the largest, most important, and most varied collections of ephemera in any American library. These ephemera collections – including such things as broadsides, blank forms, trade cards, advertisements, almanacs, chromolithographs, photographs, and post cards — complement the Library Company’s closely related collections of rare books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, prints, photographs, and manuscripts. This project will fully integrate the ephemera collections through descriptions in the online catalogs and dovetail the programming related to the Library Company’s already established collection strengths in several humanities fields — particularly visual culture, business and economic history, the history of medicine, German-Americana, women’s history, the history of printing, and Philadelphia iconography. The two-year project will result in 27,500 items cataloged. Color digital images representing most of them will be available to the public through the Company’s digital collections.

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