Project "Book Traces" Preserves Ephemera from the Past


An old newspaper clipping left inside the front cover of a library book. 

Andrew Stauffer is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia, as well as the Director of the University's NINES (Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship) program. NINES peer reviews and digitizes books from 1770-1920, as well as creates software tools to facilitate research and critical analysis of the material. 

Stauffer's NINES program also sponsors a crowd-sourced, web-based project called Book Traces. This fascinating project asks participants to collect and document instances of library books in wide circulation published before 1923 that have writing in the margins or ephemera inserted. From the Book Traces website,

"Thousands of old library books bear fascinating traces of the past. Readers wrote in their books, and left notes, pictures, letters, 
flowers, locks of hair, and other things between their pages. We need your help identifying them because many are in danger of being discarded as libraries go digital. Books printed between 1820 and 1923 are at particular risk.  Help us prove the value of maintaining rich print collections in our libraries."

Learn more about Book Traces and see additional images of submissions to the project at their website.
Images Credit: Booktraces.org.  


Paper doll clothes in antebellum fashions left in between book pages.



A copy of Alice in Wonderland published in 1910 with a child's essay on Blue Jays written on the inside cover.


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