Ephemera is transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, baseball cards, bookmarks, cigarette cards, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, photographs, postcards, posters, stock certificates, tickets, and zines. Decks of personality identification playing cards from the war in Iraq are a recent example.

In library and information science, the term ephemera also describes the class of published single-sheet or single page documents which are meant to be thrown away after one use. This classification excludes simple letters and photographs with no printing on them, which are considered manuscripts or typescripts. Large academic and national libraries and museums may collect, organize, and preserve ephemera as history.


Ephemera is a noun, the plural neuter of ephemeron and ephemeros, Greek and New Latin for epi = one and hemera = day with the ancient sense extending to the mayfly and other short lived insects and flowers and for something which lasts a day or a short period of time.

Video and Audio Ephemera

By extension, Video Ephemera and Audio Ephemera refer to transitory audiovisual matter not intended to be retained or preserved. Surprisingly, the great bulk of video and audio expression has, until recently, been ephemeral. Early TV broadcasts were not preserved (indeed, the technology to preserve them postdates the invention of television). Even if radio and television stations preserve archives of their broadcasts, those backcatalogs are inaccessible in practice to the general public, leaving it to a small underground of tape traders to exchange the rare, lucky moments when something unexpected or historical came across the air.

An article on the Ephemera Society of America website notes

Printed ephemera gave way to audio and video ephemera in the twentieth century. ... These present even more of a preservation problem than printed materials. Although seldom made available for libraries, when videotapes are acquired for archival preservation they are found to be made on low quality tape, poorly processed, and damaged from abuse by users. [ [http://www.ephemerasociety.org/articles/lla-phillips.html "'I Like Ike': Collecting Political Ephemera", Faye Philips] ]
The large capacity and reach provided by resources such as the Internet Archive and YouTube have made finding and sharing video ephemera (past and present) dramatically easier.

ee also

* Prelinger Archives
* Found Footage Festival
* The Show with No Name


*"The Encyclopedia of Ephemera: A Guide to the Fragmentary Documents of Everyday Life for the Collector, Curator, and Historian" by Maurice Rickards et alia. London: The British Library; New York: Routledge, 2000.
* " [http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/onlineshop?action=OLSDisplay&id=nla.int-ls27601-bk Fragments of the Everyday: A Book of Australian Ephemera] " /Richard Stone (2005, ISBN 0-642-27601-3)

External links

* National Library of Australia: [http://www.nla.gov.au/find/ephemera.html National Library of Australia's Ephemera homepage] ; [http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?SAB1=ephemera+general&BOOL1=as+a+phrase&FLD1=Keywords+%28GKEY%29&CNT=25&HIST=1&DB=local catalogue records for general printed ephemera] in the National Library of Australia.
* [http://www.ephemerasociety.org/ Ephemera Society of America]
* [http://findingaid.winterthur.org/html/HTML_Finding_Aids/COL0585.htm Overview of the archives of the Ephemera Society of America]
* [http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/collections/evanion/ Evonian Collection of Ephemera at the British Library] Collection of 5,000 items relating to Victorian entertainment, especially conjuring, in the UK including posters, catalogues, trade cards etc.
* [http://www.liswa.wa.gov.au/waephemera.html Western Australian Ephemera in the State Library of Western Australia]
* [http://www.ephemeraweb.org/ Ephemera: theory & politics in organization] an open access journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of organization
* Hugh D. Auchincloss Middle East Book Collection at Pell Center of International Relations and Public Policy at the McKillop Library at Salve Regina University [http://library.salve.edu/spec-col/auchincloss.html]
* [http://www.johngrossmancollection.com/ The John Grossman Collection of Antique Images] - A popular collection of printed ephemera of visual culture from 1820-1920.
* [http://www.miragebookmark.ch/be_0_exhibition.htm/ The Art of Bookmark - Bookmark Exhibition] - Includes images of early bookmarks from Victorian era and later
* [http://www.ephemera.typepad.com ephemera] - a popular blog that explores the world of old paper.
* [http://www.ampersandvintage.blogspot.com Ampersand Vintage] - Seattle-based blog dedicated to vernacular photography & vintage paper.
* [http://www.royalephemera.com/ Subscription newsletter featuring royal ephemera from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II. Includes rare images of menus, invitations, ceremonial documents, all in colour.]
* [http://www.flickr.com/groups/bookmarks/ Vintage Bookmarks] - a Flickr group showing pictures of vintage bookmarks

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ephemera — stammt aus dem Griechischen und setzt sich aus zwei Bestandteilen zusammen, die gemeinsam ausdrücken, dass etwas nicht länger als einen Tag Bestand hat. Gemeint sind Dinge, die für einen einmaligen bzw. kurzen Gebrauch bestimmt sind. Im engeren… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ephemera — Ephemera …   Wikipédia en Français

  • ephemera — (n.) late 14c., originally a medical term, from M.L. ephemera (febris) (fever) lasting a day, from fem. of ephemerus, from Gk. ephemeros lasting only one day, short lived, from epi on (see EPI (Cf. epi )) + hemerai, dat. of hemera day, from PIE… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Ephemera — E*phem e*ra, n. [NL., fr. Gr. ? a day fly, fr. ? daily, lasting but a day; ? over + ? day.] 1. (Med.) A fever of one day s continuance only. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) A genus of insects including the day flies, or ephemeral flies. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ephemĕra [1] — Ephemĕra, Eintagsfliege; Ephemeridae (Ephemeren, Ephemeriden), Familie aus der Ordnung der Falschnetzflügler, s. Eintagsfliegen …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ephemĕra [2] — Ephemĕra (griech., Eintagsfieber), plötzlich, besonders bei Kindern eintretendes und in 1–3 Tagen wieder verschwindendes Fieber, das ohne jede Lokalerscheinung verläuft oder von Entzündungen verschiedener Schleimhäute, Rachenentzündungen,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ephemera — Ephemēra, Ephemēren (Ephemerīdae), s. Eintagsfliegen …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ephemera [2] — Ephemēra (grch.), Eintagsfieber, plötzliches Fieber, bes. bei Kindern, nach Erkältung, auch großer körperlicher Anstrengung, teils mit Lippenflechte, schwindet unter kritischem Schweiß, Niederschlägen im Urin …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • ephemera — ► PLURAL NOUN ▪ items of short lived interest or usefulness, especially those that later acquire value to collectors. ORIGIN Greek, things lasting only a day …   English terms dictionary

  • ephemera — [e fem′ər ə, ifem′ər ə] n. pl. ephemeras or ephemerae [e fem′ərē΄, i fem′ərē΄] [ModL < Gr ephēmeron: see EPHEMERON] 1. MAYFLY 2. a) an ephemeral thing b) [with pl. v.] ephemeral things collectivel …   English World dictionary

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