‘Ephemera’ Exhibit Details Path of Yesterday’s Trash to Today’s Archive

Fun ephemera at the new MASC exhibit: a “have a moustache” business card.

The passengers aboard the S.S. Spokane cruising through Alaskan waters in 1903 probably didn’t give their lunch menu much thought beyond what they would have to eat. Granted, its totem-pole shape was interesting – a clever play by cruise company marketers to remind them of where they were sailing and maybe to buy a miniature souvenir while on shore.

Most of those menus would have been ignored, though – left on tables or thrown away. But one made it back from turn-of-the-century Alaska to wind up in Washington State University’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections.

The menu and other bits of the printed detritus from MASC’s collections are showcased in a new exhibit, “Ephemera: Yesterday’s Trash, Today’s Archive,” opening this month and running through March. An opening reception is set for 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the MASC main lobby.

“Ephemera” is part of WSU common reading events for the book written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Edward Humes. For more about the book and other events, visit http://commonreading.wsu.edu/.

Trevor Bond, head of MASC, said he hopes the exhibit will impress on viewers the ubiquitousness of ephemera – the minor, transient documents of everyday life. Those paper scraps go unnoticed most of the time.

“Most printed ephemera are intended for short-term use, to be consumed and then discarded,” he said. “We all have ephemera: the receipt in your pocket, the flier handed to you on Terrell Mall that you accepted out of politeness, or perhaps a bookmark for this very exhibit.”

For details about the exhibit, read the full story at https://news.wsu.edu/2014/12/11/jan-22-reception-ephemera-exhibit-detail….