Ephemera is a term used to describe a wide variety of material, usually printed, which is often produced for a specific event or purpose and is sometimes only available for a limited time. Examples include:
- publicity and information leaflets
- posters and flyers
- tickets and invitations
- membership cards, certificates, identity cards and licences
- letter heads, bill heads and invoices
- election literature
- greetings cards and calendars
- special issues of newspapers
There are examples of ephemera from the 18th century but most of the items in the collections are from the 19th century to the present day.
Location of records
Sheffield Local Studies has a collection of several thousand items of miscellaneous ephemera. There are also many items contained within the collections at Sheffield Archives.
Most of the material in the Local Studies Library is available on request but there may be a delay while some of the largest items are brought from the strong-rooms.
At Sheffield Archives, not all archive material is stored onsite and we may require notice of the items you wish to see. Please contact us to confirm when we can retrieve items for you.
We can normally supply copies for private study purposes, subject to the usual copyright regulations. There may be restrictions on the copying large or fragile items to ensure that they are not damaged.
In the Local Studies Library most of the ephemera is categorised as ‘Miscellaneous Papers’ and each item is allocated a number.
Details can be found in the main card catalogue or, for material acquired since 1997, on the online catalogue.
Some items that are produced more regularly such as theatre programmes are kept together. There are also collections of auctioneers’ sale particulars, trade catalogues and playbills.
At Sheffield Archives items of ephemera form part of individual collections. For example, you may find trade catalogues in some of the business records or election literature in the papers of some of the politically active families or individuals.