Category Archives: Ephemera

General Posts on Ephemera resources.

Walking the Boards With Alexander Hamilton ( via The Archive | The New York Public Library)

Bravo to Mr. Doug Reside, the Lewis and Dorothy Cullman Curator for the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library (NYPL) for the Performing Arts (Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Billy Rose Theatre Division) for this piece.

Mr. Reside brilliantly uses the opportunity of the new Broadway musical on Hamilton’s life to open the vaults of The Archive of NYPL & show off some of the recently digitized collections.

In the musical Hamilton, which opened last night on Broadway, George Washington tells Alexander Hamilton, “You have no control…who tells your story.” At the New York Public Library, we preserve the artifacts that allow such stories to be told, and we have an especially strong collection of archives related to the women and men whose lives inspired the characters in the musical.

Source: HAMILTON: The Archive | The New York Public Library

Celebrating The Hobo Life

Monday is opening day of the annual, week-long National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa (August 3-9, 2015). To celebrate the life of these wandering workers here are a few insights and ephemeral facts and documents related to hobos.

From Wikipedia:
“A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond—especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike “tramps”, who work only when they are forced to, and “bums”, who do not work at all, “hobos” are traveling workers.”

The origin of the term hobo is unknown. According to etymologist Anatoly Liberman, the only certain detail about its origin is the word was first noticed in American English circa 1890.[1] Liberman points out that many folk etymologies fail to answer the question: “Why did the word become widely known in California (just there) by the early Nineties (just then)?”[1] Author Todd DePastino has suggested it may be derived from the term hoe-boy meaning “farmhand”, or a greeting such as Ho, boy![3] Bill Bryson suggests in Made in America (1998) that it could either come from the railroad greeting, “Ho, beau!” or a syllabic abbreviation of “homeward bound”.[4] It could also come from the words “homeless boy”

  1. "On Hobos, Hautboys, and Other Beaus". OUPblog. Oxford University Press. November 12,   
     2008. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  2. Mencken, H.L. (1937). "On the road again". The American Language (4th ed.). (July 25, 2009). Archived from the original on 2012-05-05. Retrieved 
  3. Interview with Todd DePastino, author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness    
     Shaped America from the University of Chicago Press website
  4. Bryson, Bill (1998). Made in America.[page needed]. ISBN 978-0-380-71381-3.

Various periods of American history have stimulated the growth of the Hobo popultation. From the end of the Civil War which saw many displaced veterans hopping the rails in search of work to the surge in the 1890s during the depression of the time. And of course the Great Depression in the 1930’s put not only single people but whole families on the road and rails in search of work.

1900 –

    Britt, Iowa and the Hobos

This friendship began with the aspirations of three Britt men, Thomas A. Way, T.A. Potter, and W.E. Bradford, in 1900. Their desire was to gain some attention for the small Iowa town to “do something different to show the world that Britt was a lively little town capable of doing anything that larger cities could do.”

Way and Potter read a report in the Chicago paper that Tourists Union No. 63 had elected as officers Onion Cotton, of Danville, Illinois and Grand Head Pipe Charles F. Noe, of Sycamore, Illinois. They wrote to Noe and invited him to bring the Hobo Convention to Britt in 1900. Noe wrote them that he would come out to Britt and look the ground over, providing Way and Potter would defray his carfare and expenses. They agreed.

It was an autumn day in 1899 that Noe arrived at the Milwaukee depot and was met by Way and Potter. They wined and dined the Grand Head Pipe, then called in an attorney, W.E. Bradford, to guide the proceedings and see that they were legal. They also invited Phil Reed, a newspaper man connected with the Britt News. The four men must have guaranteed that the Hobo Convention would go over big in Britt, for Noe agreed to bring the convention to Britt in 1900 and the 22nd day of August was set as the date.

Bailey of Britt, a nationally known humorist and an ardent conventioneer, assumed the publicity end of the promotion, and various other men took responsible positions on the committees. The novelty of the convention appealed to newspaper reporters everywhere, and everyone talked it up, taking the matter as a joke – except the promoters.

From Britt, Iowa homepage:
“The Britt hobo logo was first used in the 1900 convention announcements and advertising. The figure used in the ad has been changed very little over the years and is now found around town on school letterheads, the city’s watertower, on the highway welcome sign, as well as on restaurant menus.

The “Britt hobo” is thought to be Tourist Union 63 President Onion Cotton. Onion Cotton is the hobo who agreed to bring the convention to Britt in 1900.”

Here are a few more links for more info on the National Hobo Convention and Hobo History
National Hobo Convention, Britt, Iowa (Aug. 3-9)
Hobo Museum, Britt, Iowa

    The Millionaire Hobo

Another interesting hobo storyline is the work of James Eads How (1874 – 1930) was an American organizer of the hobo community in the early 20th century. Heir of a wealthy St. Louis family, How chose to live as a hobo and to help the homeless migrant workers. The newspapers often referred to him as the “Millionaire Hobo”.

How was the founder, driving force, and financier of the International Brotherhood Welfare Association, a union for migrant workers which published Hobo News, and organized hobo colleges and hobo conventions.
More about James Eads How on Wikipedia

    Hobo Ephemera:

Here are some links to hobo ephemera available for purchase today:


A GATHERING OF ORIGINAL HOBO EPHEMERA. Cincinnati. c.1947 Courtesy Heldfond Book Gallery, Ltd.:

Cincinnati. c.1947. The collection is comprised of : two handwritten correspondences on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery from Jeff Davis soliciting the newly published “Knights of the Road Scrap Book” along with news concerning recent gatherings and upcoming conventions; A solicitation for funding on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery with printed notes laid on and bearing the ink stamped signature of Jeff Davis; a handwritten correspondence from Jeff Davis on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery presenting “Bo Pete” with his 3rd Degree membership credential and signed ” Hoboically Yours, Jeff Davis , King and Emperor; a handwritten correspondence from Jeff Davis on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery relaying some brief news and presenting “Bruce” with his 3rd Degree membership credential and ” a card from Jack Dempsey’s New York Bar” and signed ” Hoboically Yours, Jeff Davis , King and Emperor; a Knights of the Road ” Certificate of 3rd degree Knighthood filled in and signed by Davis and bearing an official Hoboes of America official embossed seal;another Knights of the Road ” Certificate of 3rd degree Knighthood filled in and signed by Davis and bearing an official Hoboes of America official embossed seal; a small proxy ballot for ratification of Jeff Davis as “King of the Hoboes for Life”, to be used if “unable to attend because of war conditions”; a National Membership Card of the International Itinerant Migratory Workers’ Union-Hoboes of America, filled in and signed by Jeff Davis;Knights of the Road Membership “Certification of Knighthood” card, filled in and signed by Jeff Davis and bearing the gold embossed official seal of the International Itinerant Migratory Workers’ Union-Hoboes of America; Letterhead envelope hand addressed by Jeff Davis and postmarked April 1, 1947.

Luminaries listed upon the official Knights of the Road letter-head are. Jack Dempsey, Carl Sandburg,Walter Huston,Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Lowell Thomas -broadcaster, and traveller,Joe Louis- Heavyweight Champ, Jack Dempsey-Heavyweight Champ,Walter Huston – Director, “Gen.” Jacob Coxey – Politician and Activist, Arthur Hayday – British Union Leader and Member of Parliament, Monrad Wallgren – Governor and US. Senator.

Letter sheets and certificates folded for mailing.Very Good, moderately soiled Envelope opened at side instead of rear. All other pieces in bright, crisp Fine condition. A charming and evocative gathering of American Cultural relics.

Item #8719

Price: $750.00

The Mystery Of Ephemeral Order

Fenton Photo with canon balls.

Luminary fact-hunter, Errol Morris, is recorded in this appearance on Radio Lab.
One of his most recent searches for truth led him across the globe to discover the truth behind one particular photograph. Taken in 1855 during the Crimean War, the photo — titled “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” by its photographer, Roger Fenton — is one of the first photos ever taken of war. Morris wanted to know whether this also was in fact the first “Staged” photograph.

You see there are actually two photos, taken from the same spot, at the same time, but very different… which came first?

Hope you enjoy this adventure through time and into a photograph.

Vintage Posters Up For Sale

An auction of vintage Post Office posters will provide funds for a new museum highlighting five centuries of social, communication and design history behind the postal service.

selection of vintage General Post Office posters are to be put up for sale as part of an online auction to raise money for The Postal Museum and Mail Rail.

Created by some of the most prominent artists and designers of their time, the original posters are duplicates from the collections in the British Postal Museum and Archive and will be put up for auction by Onslows Auction House in Dorset on July 9.

The images, made between the 1930s and 1960s, focus on a range of subjects, from airmail to pleas for the careful packing of parcels.

Adrian Steel, the director of the museum and archive, praised the creativity of the designers and highlighted the importance of the posters. “Along with a number of other trendsetting organisations, the GPO broke the mould with its marketing in the 1930s,” he suggested.

“Auctioning this striking series of posters prior to moving to The Postal Museum gives the public a rare opportunity to own a piece of iconic design.”

a photo of a poster featuring a women holding roses that have been unpacked from a parcel. Next to her reads the text ‘Properly packed parcels please’.
Poster advising correct packaging of parcels by Harry Stevens, June 1962
© Royal Mail Group courtesy of The British Postal Museum & Archive
Some of the most prominent artists and designers of the time were commissioned to create these images. The posters going on sale include works by Edward McKnight Kauffer, Stan Krol, Jan Le Witt and George Him.

Many of the artists went on to make iconic designs for places such as London Transport and the Ministry of Information with posters made to support the war effort during the Second World War.

“The funds raised will support our ambitious plans for a new, national museum and unique subterranean experience on the Mail Rail,” added Steel.

The Postal Museum will have permanent exhibition galleries and a temporary exhibition space bringing social, communication and design history from the past five centuries to London.

There are also plans to open up a section of the old Post Office Underground Railway, Mail Rail, allowing the public to take a ride through some of the original tunnels beneath the capital. Visit for more.

A selection of the posters will be available to view at the Chalke Valley History Festival until June 28. Onslows can also be contacted for a private viewing on 01258 488838 or

Summer Sale: 50% OFF EVERYTHING @ 9 Miles Of Wonder on Etsy

Get On Board With The Summer Sale. All Items Are 50% off!! Vintage Sports items, Photos, Maps, Books & Art are just some of the things you will

Source: 9 MILES OF EPHEMERA & ANTIQUES by 9MilesOfWonder on Etsy


How Ephemera Changed Capitalism in 19th Century In America

Or, more specifically: How a 19th Century organ manufacturer exploited paper advertising to fuel the engine of commerce.

From THE COMMONS (Windham County, Vermont) we learn of a great event happening this weekend:

“The Estey Company, along with thousands of other 19th century companies, was both a part of, and the epitome of, the driving force determining the personality and being of the United States: American Capitalism. By exploring the Estey product and its place in the American home, we find an example of how early American Capitalism worked.”

Estey Organ Museum sponsors a talk with Kit Barry titled “The Estey Organ — Its Place in the Emergence of American Capitalism” at its Engine House Gallery, 108 Birge St., this Sunday, June 29, at 3 p.m.

Kit Barry, is curator of the Ephemera Archive for American Studies in Brattleboro and has been collecting ephemera since he was a teenager.

Read more about the event and the history of Estey Organ Company by following the link below.

Welcome to THE COMMONS — News and Views for Windham County, Vermont.

Also check the 9 Miles of Ephemera Events Calendar for details and directions to this fascinating glimpse into ephemera research.

Here is another article featuring paper dolls that Estey distributed as advertising. “Estey Organ Company: Advertising Paper Dolls”

Dolls Of America And Her New Possessions: Cuba doll

Cuba Doll Verso

Estey Cuba Doll Interior

9 MILES of ANNIVERSARY SALE by 9MilesOfWonder on Etsy

To celebrate the 9th anniversary of 9 Miles of Ephemera & Antiques we are having a huge sale.
Check out all the gems!

Catch the deals while they last!
Catch the deals while they last!

9 MILES OF EPHEMERA & ANTIQUES by 9MilesOfWonder on Etsy.

History under the floorboards

History under the floorboards

Among the recent donations to Leeds Museums was this collection of “rubbish” which was found under the floorboards of a house in Roundhay.  The scraps of paper, torn-up letters and old cigarette packets might easily have been thrown away but the flat’s owners knew the history of the house and took a closer look.  Several of the torn envelopes had post-marks from 1943 and were addressed to officers of the 111 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery who had been billeted at the house during the Second World War. 

This small collection of discarded ephemera shines a small light on life in an officer’s mess in the summer of 1943.  They had time to go to the theatre, as there is a ticket from the Leeds Empire.  They got their writing paper courtesy of the YMCA and seem to have had to go as far as Batley to get their laundry done (there is a receipt from Batley Laundry Ltd.).  They may have had contact with G.I.’s as at least one of the razor blade packets is American.  Above all, they were heavy smokers and left behind large number of cigarette packets and matchboxes (Woodbines being the favoured brand).

There are many questions that we will never find answers to.  The collection includes some personal letters from wives and family back home, which have been screwed up and thrown away rather than lovingly kept.  The letters themselves mostly talk of banal everyday life on the home front with bits of local gossip.

Perhaps this extract from a letter written by Ida (from Surrey) to her “Dearest Dick” may indicate why he threw her letter away:

“Marie says that I was to tell you she still likes Ann Shelton better than Vera Lynn. Well Dear I hope you will be able to get home soon as there is still quite a bit of rubbish needs clearing up in the garden.”

All in all, a fascinating little glimpse of life in war-time Leeds.

via Blog details.

“You Found The Ancient Manuscript Where?” ‘Texts and Textiles’ : Finding Manuscripts in Unusual Places | The Conveyor

‘Texts and Textiles’ : Finding Manuscripts in Unusual Places | The Conveyor

Cover image from "Holy Skirts. Dresses for sculptures in Wienhausen Abbey"
Cover image from “Holy Skirts. Dresses for sculptures in Wienhausen Abbey”

Most folks know that long before “upcycling” became a buzzword, the reuse of materials was a common practice. However we are still discovering interesting ways that our ancestors put their discards back to use.

Research that began in 2011 reveals how textile conservators discovered fragments of medieval manuscripts lining the hems of dresses. The dresses, made by nuns in the late 15th century, clothed the statues at their Cistercian convent of Weinhausen in Northern Germany.

Proving again that you just never know what treasure you may find and where you might find it.

#findingtreasure #AncientUpcycling

Read more here about this fascinating find and the research behind it.

‘’Texts and Textiles’’ : Finding Manuscripts in Unusual Places | The Conveyor.

Read more information on the book here

D-Day Landing Sites Then And Now: 11 Striking Images That Bring The Past And Present Together

Farmer Raymond Bertot, who was 19 when allied troops came ashore in 1944, stands where US Army troops once made battle plans on his property near the former D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les Dunes de Varreville.
Farmer Raymond Bertot, who was 19 when allied troops came ashore in 1944, stands where US Army troops once made battle plans on his property near the former D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les Dunes de Varreville.

Awesome mash up of photos of D-Day landing sites which merge present day with historic images.

For the full story and more photos follow this link:
D-Day Landing Sites Then And Now: 11 Striking Images That Bring The Past And Present Together.