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John Johnson Collection: An Archive of Printed Ephemera: Home

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Decorative Images from Database


The  John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera is the first-ever electronic research collection of its kind. ProQuest has painstakingly scanned in color a portion of the John Johnson collection that resides in the Bodleian Library of Oxford, England. The resulting database provides direct access to rare primary source materials and evidence of Britain’s cultural, social, industrial, and technological heritage. 

This online collection benefits not only those working across a broad range of academic disciplines but also the wider learning public who would not otherwise have access to this important record of our past. Ephemera have a multitude of applications to research and teaching and are now very much valued by the scholarly community as uninterpreted documents of the past.

Until now the materials in the John Johnson Collection in the Bodleian Library have remained largely hidden to scholars and researchers due to the lack of appropriate finding aids and other issues affecting access.  This project sets out to conserve, catalog, and digitize 65,000 items drawn from five subject areas: crimes--murders and executions, advertising, booktrade, nineteenth-century entertainment, and popular prints.

The John Johnson Collection is the product of a unique partnership between the JISC, ProQuest, and Oxford University Library Services. ProQuest is extremely proud to be involved in this innovative and unique partnership.

Online Collection

The John Johnson Collection provides access to 67,754 scanned items (a total of 174,196 images), including more than 20,700 pieces of theatrical and non-theatrical ephemera from the Nineteenth-Century Entertainment category and more than 11,700 items from the Booktrade category. Over 11,200 Popular Prints are available in facsimile form, along with more than 22,400 items from Advertising and over 1,500 from Crimes, Murders and Executions.

The completed collection comprises more than 60,100 catalogue records, including some records pertaining to items that have not been scanned due to copyright restrictions. Users wishing to restrict searches to items for which facsimile images are available should use the checkbox positioned above the Keyword(s) field on the Search: All screen and on the five category-specific search screens (Entertainment, Booktrade, Crimes, Murders and Executions, Popular Prints and Advertising) to exclude records without images from their results.