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Autograph Albums, Scrapbooks and Ephemera Collection

Identifier: Mss. Coll. Ephemera

Scope and Content

The collection begins with four 19th century autograph albums, containing autographs, poetry, prose, and wishes from friends. An album presented to Miss Ellen Nickles by a friend on April 3, 1852 in Winchester, Virginia mirrors the gift book or literary annual that was so popular from the 1820s through the 1860s. Published annually, these anthologies of fiction and poetry were presented to friends and family members as Christmas or birthday presents. Inside Ellen Nickles' album are engraved illustrations like "The Little Runaway" and blank pages on which to record thoughts, verses or other meaningful text. Marion Thayer MacMillan's autograph album was also a Christmas present which she received in 1877. One of those signing Marion's album was Frances (Fanny) Louise Taft, the sister of President William Howard Taft. Fanny was born July 18, 1865 in Cincinnati and married Dr. William A. Edwards in 1890. Ella McClure Glasgow's autograph album was given to her as a Christmas present from her students, Frank, Lizzie and Robbie Mitchell, in 1881. Another album in the collection belonged to Henry Wilson and dates from 1887. The collection also includes several examples of scrapbooks featuring die-cut glossy printed paper images, or "scraps." Developed in Germany, scraps were printed by the process of chromolithography. After printing, the sheets of scraps were coated with a gelatin and gum layer, which gave the finished sheets a glossy surface. Then, they were embossed, giving the scrap a three-dimensional look. Finally, the sheets were passed through a punching or stamping press to cut away blank areas. This left the individual images connected by small ladders, often bearing the name or initials of the maker. Victorians used scraps like embossed chromolithographed sheets depicting subjects like shells, birds, animals, Christmas scenes, characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, floral arrangements, and decorative letters. Some scrapbooks in the collection include advertising trade cards. Trade cards were printed in vivid colors and promoted products such as patent medicines, tobacco products, domestic furnishings, and farm equipment. They often included illustrations that sometimes were related to the product, and sometimes were not, and were imprinted with the name and address of a retailer or manufacturer. They were handed out by merchants, left on sales counters for customers to take, and were even distributed as souvenirs at major expositions or used as early advertising efforts. Other scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings. A scrapbook dating from the 1830s includes newspaper clippings of favorite poems and verse. An early page in this scrapbook indexes selections that can be found on the first 30 pages. With an "Our Girls" album cover, another scrapbook contains newspaper articles pertaining to Oxford, Ohio. "Fireside Musings" columns from the Oxford News, circa 1906, provide details about Oxford and Miami University history. Other articles from 1928 and 1934 report on ownership of college lands in Oxford and Milford Townships, a Miami University trustees meeting to consider a proposal perpetuating the name of Oxford College, and the Oxford woolen mill. Loose pages include programs for Christmas and Fourth of July celebrations (circa 1882), Brookville High School's first annual commencement on May 28, 1877, June 29, 1876 commencement exercises at the Institute of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg, Indiana, and a concert at Burnet Woods Park on September 23, 1880. An announcement of the marriage of Otto Schmid and Emma Jestel on February 14, 1889 are inserted at the back of the scrapbook. Scrapbook makers liked to cover pages densely, pasting clippings over pages of printed books, full bookkeeping ledgers, and other discarded records. Even wealthy scrapbook keepers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries often pasted their clippings and memorabilia directly over the text of old books or catalogs. A scrapbook belonging to L.E. Greman from 1894 to 1909 is housed in a Marshall Field's "illustrated catalogue of holiday goods, druggists' sundries, stationery, small wares, etc." Newspaper articles pasted over several pages of this catalogue document Oxford, Ohio history and other items of local interest. A Christmas present from her father in 1930, Jane Skinner's scrapbook includes newspaper clippings pertaining to Oxford, Ohio history. "Things That Interest Me" is the title of a scrapbook dating from 1934. Newspaper clippings document "The Rise and Fall of the Amish Mennonites," the story of Christmas and mulberry trees, historic homes, Christmas celebrations, and local history relevant to Oxford, Ohio. A scrapbook from 1937 and 1938 commemorates the celebration of the Northwest Territory's sesquicentennial. Newspaper articles report on related events such as an ox-team caravan conducted to mark the occasion, as well as historical details about Ohio cities, a newspaper advertisement promoting events held in Oxford, Ohio to commemorate the sesquicentennial, maps of creeks and forts in the Oxford area, printed material titled "Program for Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Conquest of the Old Northwest", and a certificate of appreciation for Miami University's cooperation with the celebration correspondence. The Election Scrapbook for 1944 includes magazine and newspaper articles covering the Presidential campaign. Arranged by eighth grader Jane Selby, the scrapbook is arranged chronologically from July through November 1944. Spanning the years from 1876 to 1878, Karl Merz's scrapbook of newspaper clippings also includes a commencement program from the the Miami Classical and Scientific Training School, an advertisement for a demonstration of Edison's phonograph, a program for a concert at Sampson Hall and Dodd's New Hall, and an advertisement for Brainard's Musical World. A scrapbook of newspaper accounts written by Murat Halstead about the Presidential campaign of 1892 can also be found in the collection. The scrapbook belonged to Helen Josephine Scott and was given to her by her grandmother on November 1, 1910. Halstead was a journalist from Butler County, Ohio who developed a reputation as a war correspondent. Later, he became editor of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette. The collection continues with a number of rewards of merit, friendship cards, and religious cards. An advertisement for F. Wesler, a wig-maker in Cincinnati, Ohio, a program for a holiday festival at Reed's Hall in Sinclearville on December 30, 1859, together with a bookmark from Howard L. Ross & Co. in Hamilton, Ohio and a bookmark featuring a stitched design on perforated paper reading "Always Tell the Truth," can also be found in the collection. Scraps include one sheet with six views of the U.S. Government Building, Machinery Hall, the Hall of Mines, the Electrical Building, Administration Hall, and the Fisheries Building, which could illustrate buildings from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The collection also includes several cards in the "Useful Birds of America" series, an Arm & Hammer Brand Baking Soda premium. Examples of Wills's Cigarette cards, issued by the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain & Ireland), Ltd., can also be found here. Excellent examples of Valentines, Christmas cards, Easter cards and other scrap-decorated greeting cards are included in the collection. Many are three-dimensional or incorporate paper honeycomb features. The collection also includes an example of a printed paper fan, illustrated with color scenes of pastoral landscapes. Together with a school card circa 1900. Business ephemera includes an order form for items offered by Mr. and Mrs. James L. Lowe, deltiologists (postcard collectors) doing business at one time in Folsom, Pennsylvania. A volvelle or moveable wheel titled "Vegaswhirl," offers an illustrated "guide to your whirl in and around Las Vegas, Nevada." Seals promoting Boys Town in Nebraska can also be found here. Other promotional cards in the collection were produced by The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Clark's Spool Cotton, and the Great China Tea Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Three brochures in the collection promote the incline at the foot of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; art galleries aboard famous New York Central trains; and the Mt. Lowe schedule for the Pacific Electric Railway in effect September 1, 1926. The latter brochure also provides information about the Mt. Lowe Tavern and Cottages. Some postcards in the collection advertise the Ralph Lauren Polo chino, the Warner Company's "Stockwell's Villa Bella Handprinted Wallpaper," the 1967 Shelby GT 350/500, and a list of five reasons why Bismarck is North Dakota's most popular convention city. Other postcards advertise restaurants, such as Anthony's Pier 4 in Boston; Eaton Manor in Hamilton, Ohio; Schmidt's Sausage Haus in German Village (Columbus), Ohio; the C-K Cafeteria in Greenville, Ohio; the Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale in Minneapolis; and the New London Lions Club's lobster suppers and the Idle Oars restaurant on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Hotels advertised in postcards in this collection include the Hayes Rainbow Motel in Mackinaw City, Michigan; the Holiday Inn in Boston-Newton, Massachusetts; the Ramada Inn in South Burlington, Vermont; the Bass Rocks Motor Inn in Gloucester, Massachusetts; Howard Johnson's motor lodge in Erie, Pennsylvania; the Quality Inn in Bedford, Pennsylvania; The Manor on Golden Pond; the Sheraton-Islander Inn in Newport, Rhode Island; Hotel Dallas Park in Miami, Florida; the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan; the Japanese Garden on top of the Bingham Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Continental 93 Motor Inn in Littleton, New Hampshire; and the Bayshore Inn in Vancouver, Canada. Several landmarks are promoted through postcards in this collection. Destinations include St. Paul, Minnesota; Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri; sites connected with Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois; Stapleton Airfield in Denver, Colorado; the Park Street Church Society in Boston, Massachusetts; attractions along the enchanted trail in Rock City atop Lookout Mountain; the San Jose Mission in San Antonio, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; St. John's Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Baptistery doors in Florence, Italy; Cape Peninsula, South Africa; the My Old Kentucky Home state shrine near Bardstown, Kentucky; Washington, D.C.; Cooperstown, New York; Mayowood in Rochester, Minnesota; and several postcards from National Parks in the American West. Other postcards promote items in historical collections, such as a Shaker seed box lid label in the Shaker Museum in Old Chatham, New York; Memling's "Reliquary of St. Ursula" at the Hopital Saint-Jean in Bruges, Belgium; "The Spring House" by N.C. Wyeth, from the collection of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts in Wilmington, Delaware; several items from the Cincinnati Historical Society's collection; and illustrated recipes from an unknown source.


  • 1852-1986

Language of Materials

The records are in English

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries.

Restrictions on Use

Reproduction of materials in the collection is subject to the restrictions of copyright law. To use any materials not yet in the public domain, the researcher must obtain permission from the copyright holder.


4.5 linear feet


This collection includes autograph albums, scrap albums, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, rewards of merit, religious cards, bookmarks, and friendship cards.

Statement of Arrangement

Series I: Autograph Albums Series II: Scrap Albums Series III: Newspaper Scrapbooks Series IV: Ephemera

Guide to the Autograph Albums, Scrapbooks and Ephemera Collection
Finding aid prepared by Betsy Butler
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections Finding Aids Repository