Key Collecting Areas: Collecting Emerson

35.  Ralph Waldo Emerson. Original Hymn [the “Concord Hymn”] ([no place: no publisher, 1837]).

Original Hymn

Printed handbill.  From a Barrett family scrapbook (part of the CFPL Vault Collection).  Gift of Meliscent Gill, 2011.

The “Concord Hymn” handbill was printed for distribution to the local crowd at the July 4, 1837, ceremony dedicating the Battle Monument at what was then the site of the North Bridge (the old bridge had long since been dismantled and a ceremonial bridge was not constructed until the centennial of the Concord Fight).  It’s easy to imagine the likely condition of handbills folded and stuffed into pockets at the end of observances on a humid summer day.  In addition to the recently-acquired copy shown here, the Concord Free Public Library also holds a fragment of the handbill (part of the Concord Pamphlet Collection, which includes much ephemera).

The term “ephemera” refers to documents produced for a particular, generally commonplace, purpose and not required beyond their intended use.  Examples include printed broadsides to advertise events and admission tickets to performances.  Because such items are often discarded when they have served their purpose, and because they may suffer damage in the course of posting or other use, good surviving examples can be rare. 

Ephemera related to the Transcendental authors is sought by collectors as part of the documentary record, of social history, and of material culture.


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