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The Gateway Arch Ephemera Collection, Artifact of the Month for November 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by: Jennifer Clark, Archivist

Gateway Arch Ephemera Collection

Ephemera are items not meant to last - the name means transitory, short lived. In the context of archival materials it includes items such as posters, invitations, flyers for events, bookmarks, postcards, or anything made for a short term purpose. Sometimes these items are sought by archives because they illustrate some important concept that the archives wishes to document. In the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives the Gateway Arch Ephemera Collection is meant to document the development of the image of the Arch to become the primary icon of St. Louis. Since 1948, the image of the Gateway Arch has been used in a wide variety of ways and represented on all types of materials. The collection comprises items on which the Gateway Arch design has been used artistically and commercially to promote ideas, products and events associated with St. Louis. Included in the collection are posters, letterhead stationery, bumper stickers, cartoons, advertisements and promotions, business cards and related three dimensional objects such as t-shirts, cups, and dry cleaners' hangars.

A button that reads,
A button from the exhibit

This collection originated in 1989 with a park exhibit called, "Not Quite Arch Rivals." The park continued to acquire items to add to the collection - most often photographs of signs featuring the Arch and business cards of firms that use the Arch as part of their logo. 

Dry Cleaner's hanger
Hanger from a business featuring the Arch in its logo

Several of the items and images from the collection were used in the production of this year's Archives Month poster:

Archives Week Poster 2012
Archives Month poster

Due to the vast number of items manufactured with the image of the Arch and the limited storage space available, the preferred way to "collect" items today is via a photograph.  If you have an item which you think might be appropriate for the collection, please contact the archivist.

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Did You Know?

1843 letter

The Museum of Westward Expansion at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial contains over 150 quotes from diaries, journals, letters and speeches. The designers of the museum felt the actual words of nineteenth century pioneers were the most powerful way to tell their story. Click to learn more. More...