The Ephemera Project

Ephemera are detritus or garbage that people produce without intending it to survive the moment. Categorically speaking, and according to the Ephemera Society of America, "Ephemera include paper materials such as advertisements, airsickness bags, baseball cards, currency, board and card games, greeting cards, invitations, labels, menus, paper dolls, postcards, posters, puzzles and puzzle cards, stock certificates, tickets, timetables, trade cards, valentines, watch papers, and wrappers." Nonetheless, and perhaps more than any other form of evidence, ephemera encode social objectives in their fragile bodies - both ideologies and the shadow of a human touch. That is probably why, according to John Grossman of the Collection of Antique Images, studying ephemera provides a way of grasping the everyday expectations and hopes of ordinary people momentarily embedded in the material world.

Archives are collections of "records and relevant materials created not only from official government management, but as the result of all manner of personal, social, economic, functional, and symbolic activities of individuals, organizations, and institutions...to maintain the specific detailed information that would otherwise disappear or be forgotten," according to the Society of American Archivists. In The Archeology of Knowledge, Michael Foucault describes archives as a collection of pieces from a historical period reflecting the historical priori of the time period. From this perspective, the detritus of one time period is the flow of information for future periods.

The overall objective is to establish an Ephemera Collection via online and library collections which originated in work that Steven Lewis and Tani Barlow have carried out over the last decade. Evidence based research must always consider its sources, and increasingly, ephemera will count as a source of information for other scholars as projects such as The Ephemera Project make ephemeral materials widely available.