Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Trove is an Australian site that provides access to a truly impressive number of historical records in digital format. Their Twitter account recently pointed out that the pre-Twitter form of information dissemination was the cutting and passing on of newspaper articles. That struck a chord with me.

Do any of you have your older relatives' scrapbooks? Sadly, none of my family were careful curators, so I don't. Although Mum still cuts recipes out of the newspaper to tuck away and never refer to again, LOL. The old scrapbooks that saved ephemera are fascinating.

Ephemera are the small things that were designed to serve a purpose for just a short time: tickets, postcards, catalogues, etc. The Ephemera Society is a good place to explore the notion of ephemera. (Also, check out the Prize Papers Project, it's digitalizing undelivered mail from British ships from the 17th to 19th Centuries).

As a kid, I loved the things my family had kept despite themselves: wildflowers pressed in books, sheet music, and pamphlets. My grandmother always enjoyed a good conspiracy and she had some strange little pamphlets printed by obscure societies.

The internet worries me for how it changes ephemera. So much of it is now online. Will it vanish? Does that matter? How will people thirty years from now find ways to look back at the small, important things of our daily lives?

I was thinking about what to write for this blog post, and how ephemeral such posts tend to be, and the next thing I knew, here was this reflection on the topic.

I'd hate to lose the magic of discovering forgotten ways of living and loving that ephemera provide. Reading their grandparents' emails (if they're allowed access to them) just won't be the same for future generations as reading paper love letters. For a start, they won't be SWAK (Sealed With A Kiss).

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