Sunday, March 6, 2011

What is Ephemera?

One of the questions I am asked when I present to audiences is what the word "ephemera" means.  Ephemera is something that genealogists and historians deal with quite a bit but may not know that there is a word to describe it.

Ephemera is generally some type of printed matter that was not meant to be kept or archived. There are many items that have genealogical or historical value that fit this description. Greeting cards, posters, menus, tickets, receipts are all ephemera.

Our ancestor's hand written recipes, newspaper clippings and some cookbooks may also not have meant to be archived and last generations. However, when they do last they provide an important snapshot of our ancestor's day to day life.

While ephemera may be a home source it may also be archived at a museum, library or archive. To learn more about ephemera see the website for the Ephemera Society of America.