DOWNTOWN — Whether they were handmade or printed, humorous or rude, political or personal, the thousands of signs carried at Saturday's Women's March on Chicago spoke volumes about the emotions and issues of the day.
The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., would like to preserve the moment by collecting signs, banners, buttons, hats and other materials associated with the march.
Known as "ephemera" in library lingo — artifacts typically thrown away after serving their purpose — these objects can provide an immediate, unvarnished record of events in a way that more polished works of art or commentary can't, according to the Newberry.
The library posted a call for signs on Facebook: "Help us build a living archive of modern protest that includes voices from across the city."
“We wanted to make sure we were preserving the raw material from what is certainly going to be an evolving landscape of social action,” Martha Briggs, the Newberry’s Lloyd Lewis Curator of Modern Manuscripts, said in a statement.
“We also wanted to encourage everyone to think of their protest signs as worth saving for future generations interested in looking back on how citizens of our time framed pressing political issues and organized themselves for the causes they cared about," Briggs said.
This living archive of modern protest isn't limited to the Women's March — the Newberry has also been collecting ephemera from the Black Lives Matter movement.
“As protests and counter-protests in Chicago continue to surface for or against different causes, we plan to add to our archive and, in the process, represent views from all sides of the political spectrum," said Briggs.
Donations can be made in-person or by mailing materials to Newberry Library, Attn. Martha Briggs, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago 60610.
Forms will be supplied on site for donors to complete; those mailing their items should include the name of the event, the date and the location.
The Newberry asks donors to relinquish their copyright. The items will be permanently preserved and will be available for viewing in the library's reading room. Selected materials may be included in future exhibitions.