Ephemera Collection

The Ephemera Collection contains material relating to the cultural and social history of Victoria and Australia. Ephemera are transitory documents created for a specific purpose, often intended to be disposable: theatre programs, playbills, broadsides, exhibition catalogues, travel and tourism documentation, tickets, postcards, brochures for train and plane travel, toys, games, receipts, keepsakes, dance cards, posters, protest material, menus, timetables, petitions. In a world of which unlike ours was not connected via the internet, television or even radio, printed bills, broadsides and advertisements were the main way for many to receive news.

Beyond this, the materiality of ephemera gives us a sense of the colours and designs common to the past, as well as changes in marketing, but they also evidence well known events, issues and people. For example, providing a more immediate insight into a Melbourne dock worker’s wages through their food stamp cards in the 1940s. Printed ephemera through their ordinariness provide an immediate connection to the past in ways that textbooks cannot.