I wrote a series of posts on late 18th-century American ephemera– pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers of the American Revolution– for the new Bauman Rare Books blog.
My first post, American Ephemera: History as it Happened, is now up. Here’s a preview:
The United States of America was the first nation created though revolutionary acts of writing. Many of our most significant and influential founding works—Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers—were first printed not in book form, but as ephemera, printed material not meant to be preserved.
There are many types of ephemera, but in this series I’ll be discussing late 18th-century American pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers. They were usually printed for a particular time-sensitive purpose and then discarded, so relatively little from this period has survived.
Ephemera captured history as it happened and quickly spread it on both sides of the Atlantic—breaking news, public reaction to current events, government declarations and documents, speeches, letters, sermons, essays, and furious debates about the political, economic, and philosophical issues of the day. These invaluable primary sources are like time travel, allowing us to witness key events, gain insight into everyday life, and understand how Americans evolved from loyalty to rebellion to self-government….
The other posts in the series will appear every other week. I’ll add links to the titles below as they are posted on the BRB blog.
- American Ephemera: History as it Happened
- American Ephemera: Pamphlets
- American Ephemera: Broadsides
- American Ephemera: Newspapers
If you’re interested in rare books, you should check out the rest of the blog, which includes posts on Rare Books 101, Stories About Books, Modern American Literature, Legends of Photography, The Best Illustrated Books You’ve Never Heard Of, and Sex, Drugs & Books.