Claude Johnson, the Founder & Executive Director of the Black Fives Foundation, will be a presenter at the 35th Annual Conference of the Ephemera Society of America, held March 19-22, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, CT.
Johnson’s presentation, entitled “The Crucial Role of Ephemera in Tracing Black Basketball History,” will illuminate the once-forgotten but important history of African Americans in basketball prior to the formation of the National Basketball Association, during a period from 1904 through 1950 known as the Black Fives Era.
“It would be difficult if not impossible to trace, examine, or preserve this history without access to a small but growing archive of related ephemera,” says Johnson. “The Black Fives Foundation maintains such an archive, containing many rare and illuminating items that go back to the turn of the last century, and together they paint a picture that includes not only the basketball related history but also the parallel cultural context, the business models used, the fans’ perspective, the level of media acceptance, and the stories of the individual pioneers themselves.”
The presentation will include the display and discussion of numerous historically important items including ticket stubs, postcards, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, scorecards, event programs, yearbooks, photographs, sheet music, handbills, placards, booklets, and books.
About the The Ephemera Society of America, Inc.
The Ephemera Society of America, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed in 1980 to cultivate and encourage interest in ephemera and the history identified with it; to further the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of ephemera by people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of interest; to promote the personal and institutional collection, preservation, exhibition, and research of ephemeral materials; to serve as a link among collectors, dealers, institutions, and scholars; and to contribute to the cultural life of those who have an interest in our heritage as a nation or a people, both nationally and internationally.
“Ephemera, as artifacts of history, inevitably contains facts, prejudices, and other aspects (such as language, art and social organization) reflecting their particular time and place, and is now widely used in academic programs, sometimes falling under the rubric of ‘material culture,'” according to the Society. “Ephemera is revered not only for its content, but also for the beauty of its presentation which may involve interest in its graphic design, typography, a printing process such as chromolithography, or its format, such as a cobweb valentine.”