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, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and magazines. 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. A particularly large and important example of such an archive is the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
When applied to collectibles, ephemera refers to the minor transient documents of everyday life. Greeting cards, product labels, tickets, calendars, invitations and paper dolls are classic forms of paper ephemera.
But not all ephemera can be regarded as minor or even transient. Birth and marriage certificates, mourning cards, banknotes, sheet music, manuscripts and bookplates are examples of ephemera with considerable importance to the user or owner. Baseball cards, holiday ornaments, paper dolls and souvenir items are also considered ephemera, yet they were designed to be kept.
Some ephemera were deliberately preserved in family albums or attic trunks because they were beautiful images, held sentimental value or marked an event of historical importance. Trade-cards, die-cut scraps, invitations and newspaper articles are some examples. Still other forms of ephemera were inadvertently saved by routine storage year after year. Billheads, catalogs and annual reports come to mind. Whether by intention or accident, ephemera survive as treasures of material culture and as reminders of our past and present history.
Ephemera Society of America - http://www.ephemerasociety.org
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.
The American Antique Deck Collectors Club http://www.52plusjoker.org/
American Matchcover Collecting Club http://www.matchcovers.com/
American Philatelic Society http://www.stamps.org/
Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum http://www.pierce-arrow.com
The English Playing Card Society http://www.wopc.co.uk/epcs/
The Ephemera Network http://ephemera.ning.com
Golden Glow of Christmas Past http://my.execpc.com/~gmoe/gg-web2
The International Playing-Card Society http://www.pagat.com/ipcs/index.html
Museum of World War II http://www.museumofworldwarii.com
Poster Stamps Collector Club http://www.posterstampcc.org
Ecrater Ning http://ecrater.ning.com/group/ephemera
American Antiquarian Society http://www.americanantiquarian.org
American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors http://www.aape.org
American Historical Print Collectors Society http://www.ahpcs.org
American Bookbinders Museum http://www.bookbindersmuseum.com
Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America http://www.abaa.org/
American Philatelic Society http://www.stamps.org
American Printing History Association http://www.printinghistory.org/
Association for Research Libraries
A book and Web site presenting illustrated and highly readable profiles of selected rare and special collections available for use in the major research libraries of North America. http://www.celebratingresearch.org/
American Textile History Museum http://www.athm.org
Centre for Ephemera Studies, University of Reading, England http://www.rdg.ac.uk/AcaDepts/lt/home.html
Ephemera Society of Austria http://members.aon.at/ephemera/
Ephemera Society of the UK http://www.ephemera-society.org.uk/
Folger Shakespeare Library http://www.folger.edu
Historic New England/SPNEA http://www. historicnewengland.org
The Library Company of Philadelphia http://www.librarycompany.org
Manuscript Society http://www.manuscript.org/
Professional Autograph Dealers Association http://www.padaweb.org/
Musée de l’imprimerie http://www.imprimerie.lyon.fr
Writing Equipment Society http://www.wesonline.org.uk
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works http://aic.stanford.edu/
Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts http://www.ccaha.org/
Graphic Conservation Company http://www.GraphicConservation.com
Northeast Document Conservation Center http://nedcc.org/
I love the diverse field that comes with ephemera, no matter where you look, ephemera is everywhere..