John Smith's Ephemera
February 3, 2007 9:44 AM   Subscribe

"John Smith, Youngest, of Crutherland, was given the honorary degree of LL.D in 1840. In 1842 he announced the bequest to the University [of Glasgow] of his runs of publications from learned societies, and his volumes of ephemeral items. These came to the library on Smith’s death in 1849." Some examples: Playbill, Theatre Royal, York Street. Broadsheet account of an attempted prison break. Radical Party election ballad. See also: Glasgow Broadside Ballads: cheap print and popular song culture in nineteenth-century Scotland and Glasgow Broadside Ballads: The Murray Collection
posted by Len (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Fantastic. Thank you. Ephemera is such a vivid window into everyday life.
posted by Rumple at 10:22 AM on February 3, 2007

i love this stuff--thanks!

These really are the source materials of history.

Don't miss the Int'l Institute of Social History--tons of documents and ephemera from all over.
posted by amberglow at 12:17 PM on February 3, 2007

Very nice. I hadn't realized that broadsides were anything more than handbills. The idea of publishing music about current events, in an intentionally non-permanent format is very cool. Now my lazy ass is never going to get out of the house today.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:27 PM on February 3, 2007

A fascinating collection, wonderfully presented. Thanks Len!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:31 PM on February 3, 2007

This is the same John Smith, Bookseller of which Robert Burns spoke highly. They're still in business today (, though they no longer have the wonderful flagship store on St Vincent St in Glasgow. How many hours (and pounds!) did I spend in that store!
posted by scruss at 7:28 PM on February 3, 2007

Great stuff.

See also Streetprint (links to actual sites on the bottom left), The Word On the Street , the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, The Evanion Collection of Victorian Ephemera, The English Ballad Archive, and the John Johnson collection.

Although most of these sites use the word ephemera, I personally prefer the term 'cheap print' - as in Tessa Watt's book - for this kind of material, which is becoming much more accessible these days, whereas it often used to be shoved in boxes under not much more than the name of the collector. This will allow it to be assessed alongside other historical and cultural artefacts (newspapers, novels, operas, whatever), as it should be.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 9:25 PM on February 3, 2007

This is just fantastic. Favourited for future leisurely perusal. Thanks, Len.
posted by Abiezer at 11:25 PM on February 3, 2007

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