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Rare Book and Special Collections Division



The Domestic Sphere
Religion and Spirituality
Reform Efforts
Women's Rights Newpapers
Susan B. Anthony Collection
NAWSA Collection
Women's Education
Pamphlet Collections
arrow graphicPrinted Ephemera
Working Women
Women in Popular Culture
Collections Formed by Women
Literary Works



Printed Ephemera

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Left: A Terrible Blot on American Civilization (front). Right: Vote against Those Who Voted to Protect the Lynching Industry (back). Illustrated flyer. (Washington: District of Columbia Anti-Lynching Committee North Eastern Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, [1922]; Port. 208:36 Pr Eph). Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

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The Printed Ephemera Collection (formerly the Broadside Collection) contains nearly thirty thousand broadsides, as well as posters, programs, and other ephemera. Items generated by the women's movement and other reforms in which women participated, as well as advertisements of products intended for women, literary and social programs, menus, and poetry written and printed by women, are found here.

Esther De Berdt Reed, first lady of Pennsylvania, calls on her sisters to live simply and make personal sacrifices in order to save money to send to the soldiers in “Sentiments of an American Woman” ([Philadelphia, June 10, 1780]; Printed Ephemera, Port. 146: 3) [full item]. Philadelphia women raised more than $300,000 in paper currency in only a few weeks. Their patriotism inspired similar efforts in other states. (See related topical essay on The Sentiments of an American Woman. )

The work of women in support of the abolitionist cause is well documented by notices of antislavery fairs and appeals from female anti- slavery societies. The efforts of female teachers to educate the freedmen is reported in a fund-raising leaflet, “Education among the Freedmen” (Philadelphia, 1862; Printed Ephemera, Port. 157: 41) [full item], which shows schoolyard activities at Sea-Island School, No. 1, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

As the nation prepared to celebrate its one hundredth anniversary in 1876, the rights of full citizenship promised by the Declaration of Independence were still not enjoyed by women. In “Declaration and Protest of the Women of the United States” (Philadelphia, 1876; Printed Ephemera, Port. 160: 3) [full item], the National Woman Suffrage Association lists wrongs and oppressions against women that violate the fundamental principles of government and are in their eyes grounds for impeachment of the nation's rulers. “Woman Suffrage Co-Equal with Man Suffrage” (New York, 1910; Printed Ephemera, Port 132: 2) [full item] is representative of the suffrage posters created by the National American Woman Suffrage Association to gain the attention of a variety of constituencies in the first decade of the twentieth century.

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The First Gymnacyclidium for Ladies and Gentlemen. Illustrated advertising leaflet with engraving by Clarry & Reilley Inc. (New York, 1869; Port 341 :18 Pr Eph). Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

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Broadsides cataloged before 1972 are listed in the Catalog of Broadsides in the Rare Book Division (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1972; Z1231.B7 A5 Rare Bk Ref) . Those cataloged between 1972 and 1986 are represented in a card file in the reading room. Beginning in 1986, individual online records have been created. The printed catalog is four volumes, organized geographically, by author and title, and chronologically, but it provides no subject access. The Printed Ephemera Collection is currently being digitized for American Memory as “An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera”. Digitized text searching online provides subject links not otherwise available for this collection.

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