Ephemera n. 1. Anything short-lived or transitory. 2. Such things collectively: a writer of ephemera. 3. Items, as pamphlets, notices and tickets, originally intended to be of use for only a short time, especially when preserved as collectibles. (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991)
I want to bring to light a little about Theodore Langstroth in regards to scrapbooks. Langstroth assembled his scrapbooks in 1975-1978, after retiring from a career as a dye chemist, spending the bulk of his adult life in Cincinnati, Ohio. He must have collected material for his scrapbooks long before his retirement, and also must have had great connections in order to secure the paper and images in his stash. Read more about him here, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has most of his scrapbooks. Some images from his scrapbooks may be seen here.
A few of Langstroth’s scrapbooks reside elsewhere, I had the good fortune to catalog a few of his scrapbooks for a former employer. While researching his life back then, I discovered the insightful observation that Langstroth saved whatever needed saving. He latched onto subjects that no one else thought were significant. Now, these collections are treasure troves of information. He collected not only subjects such as color lithography, art on stamps, Price and Bonnelli's Greater New York Minstrels Showboat, the Boss Washing Machine Company and the use of flags on envelopes in the Civil War; he also collected items on individual people: Hiram Powers (sculptor), Blondin, the hero of Niagara Falls, artist Fannie Manser and Joseph Boggs Beale. Not exactly household names anymore…
Information on Langstroth from John Fleischman, “The Labyrinthine World of the Scrapbook King,” Smithsonian Magazine, Feb. 1992.
Next time, I’ll introduce you to Joseph Cornell before I tie all of this together.