Time Travel: Israeli Ephemera

Time Travel: Israeli Ephemera

About the Project

Most Israelis enjoy an occasional foray into the past, be it the Ottoman period, the British Mandate, or the early years of the State of Israel. Such historical journeys are usually taken via books and films, though these often fall short of an authentic portrayal. They present a filtered, rather than unmediated, account of the everyday life and culture of the region.

A more reliable reflection of the reality at the time might be found in historical press resources. Nevertheless, as we know, even the most diverse and dynamic of newspapers ultimately offer only a subjective perspective on social and cultural circumstances that prevailed at the time of their publication. Ephemera however, have the potential to provide us with a truly unmediated and authentic picture.


The term "ephemera" derives from the Greek word for things that last only a day. It is now used to refer to publications that were originally intended for short term use only: posters, publicity and advertising flyers, bookmarks and any other printed matter not produced for posterity. And therein lies the power of ephemera: these everyday items can be used to piece together the social norms, intellectual and political trends, cultural products, religious customs and economic realities of the time.

A glance at our surroundings, from bulletin boards, to mailboxes, storefront signs and more, illustrates the degree to which ephemera reflect public life on every level. From government agencies and large organizations to small, localized initiatives, ephemera are in evidence in all walks of life and every part of the country. Along this spectrum, different perspectives on various aspects of our lives are on display. This remains true, even today when so much of our public existence is mediated by the internet, and it was most certainly the case in generations past.

The Project

The objective of the "Time Travel" project is to collect and scan Israeli ephemera and make them accessible to the general public. The project is sponsored by the Arcadia Fund and is designed to include active public participation, not merely to deliver a final product. The National Library invites individuals who have collections of ephemera to make contact so that their collections can be integrated in the project, either physically or via digital reproduction. The public is also asked to assist in gathering information about such collections. All those who are interested in the documenting of Israeli society and culture are invited to participate in the National Library's efforts to gather contemporary ephemera. The project will involve recruitment of volunteers to describe and classify the ephemera uploaded to the Internet, as a means of drawing on the entire public's vast knowledge resources.


Our Collection Partners

Yad Yaari Research and Documentation Center
The New Year Greeting Card Collection of Yad Yaari includes greeting cards from the Kibbutz Movement, the youth movements and various other institutions and bodies from the early 1920s and onwards.
Rehovot History Archive
The Posters Collection of the Rehovot History Archive, as well as other archival material in this collection, demonstrates the changing face of the town of Rehovot.
Holon Municipal Archives
A collection of posters that documents the history of the city of Holon from the time of its foundation in the 40s. It mostly includes municipal announcements and posters promoting cultural and sporting events.
Petach Tivka History Archive
The Oded Yarkoni Petach Tikva History Archives preserve the ephemera of the city's municipal institutions as well as private archives of its residents.
ZIM Archive
The Ephemera Collection of the ZIM Archive includes brochures advertising the time tables and routes of ZIM, the national overseas shipping company, founded in 1945.
The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People
The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People contain thousands of collections from Jewish communities and organizations worldwide.
The Tel Aviv Municipal Archive Collection
The Posters Collection of the Tel Aviv Municipality includes announcements that were hung by the city council and more.
The Israeli Architecture Collection
The Ephemera Collection of the Israeli Architecture Archive documents the fields of architecture and construction in Israel in the 20th century from a unique perspective.
Beit Ariela Archive Collection- Dance
The Poster Collection of the Dance Archive of Israel in the Beit Ariela Shaar Zion Library in Tel Aviv enhances the comprehensive data on the subject of Israeli dance preserved in the Archive.
The Yad Tabenkin Collection
The collection of posters and announcements at The Yad Tabenkin Research and Documentation Center of the Kibbutz Movement focuses on the life of the national Halutz movement.
The Pevsner Collection
The Zalman Pevsner Poster Collection preserved in the Tel Aviv University Archives includes posters from Eretz Yisrael from the end of the 19th century until the 1960's.
The National Library Collections
The Ephemera Collections of the National Library cover a wide range of subjects. The Poster Collection includes material from every aspect of life in the Yishuv and State.
The Pashkevil Collection
The largest collection of pashkevils from Me'ah Shearim, digitized by the National Library, touches on every area of life in the Ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem.
IDCPA Archive Collection (Tel Aviv Theatre)
The Israeli Documentation Center for the Performing Arts at Tel Aviv University documents the performing arts in Israel from the 20s and until the present day. The performances are documented via programs, posters, photographs, recordings and criticism.
Eilat Archive Collection
The ephemera collection of the municipal museum in Eilat documents the development of Eilat with a focus on the city’s tourism branch. The collection showcases the unique “Eilat” way of life.
Archive of Jewish Education in Israel and the Diaspora Collection
The poster collection at the Archive of Jewish Education in Israel and the Diaspora gives expression to the ideas and values of the educational system in Israel from the first days of the Yishuv to the modern day State of Israel.
The Wingate Institute Collection
The Tzvi Nishri poster collection at the Wingate Institute deals with athletics and various sporting events, both competitive and popular.
The Walish Collection
The Ari Walish collection presents various works that were designed by Otte Wallish in his studios in Czechoslovakia and in Israel begginning with the 1920s. He created works for the Yishuv, various governmental entities and a number of financial companies.
The Egged Collection
Egged’s historic collection contains, photographs, newspapers and protocols as well as posters, timetables and bus tickets, all of which tell the story of the cooperative- a story that goes hand in hand with the establishment of the State.
The Beit Ariella Theatre Archive Collection
The Yehuda Gabbai Theatre Archive in the Tel Aviv municipal library - Beit Ariela - contains posters, performance programs as well as personal archives, photographs and records that document the development of theatre in Israel as well as Jewish theatre in the Diaspora.
Haifa Municipal Archives
The poster collection of the historical Haifa municipal archives presents an overarching picture of the cultural and social life of the city as well as the municipal activity in Haifa from the beginning of the 20th century.
Netanya Archive
The Netanya municipal archive collects historical and administrative sources regarding the city and its urban development including documents, photographs, books and municipal publications. The archive contains unique collections beginning with the 1920s, including municipal announcements that document everyday life in the city in a local and national context, the Beni Binyamin Union Archive- (The Beni Binyamin Union was the first moshav organization that sought to establish new settlements on the basis of private sales in the Sharon region which was then mostly unsettled), the Oved Ben Ami Archive (Oved Ben Ami was the first secretary of the organization and one of the founders of the city), as well as the Diamond Union Archive.
The Library of Nayif Salim Sweid, Peqi'in
The Ephemera collection of Nayif Salim, documenting a number of periods in his life as a long-time member of the Israeli Communist Party, a member of the Worker’s Committee and the Peqi’in Committee, his involvment n public activism in his home town and his activity as a poet and writer.
The Archive of Nayif Khoury
A collection of ephemera and placards documenting the work of Nayif Khoury in theatre as a writer, director and critic, and one of the founders of the al-Meidan Theatre, as well as his work in the realm of radio.
The Archive of the Ofoq Insitute of Culture and the Arts
A collection of ephemera and placards documenting the Arab theatre in Israel through the work of Afif Shlewet, playwright and actor, born in Shefar’am. The collection also contains ephemera relating to the activity of al-Ofoq and the academics in Shefar’am.
The Radi Shehadeh Collection. Asseera Theatre
This collection contains contains ephemeral materials and photographs of old plays by Radi Shehadeh, one of the most important figures in the realm of Arab theatre in the country. Shehadeh, a resident of the village of Maghar (المغار), creates, writes, acts and directs, and serves as the director of the Asseera Theater.
The Tawfiq Ziyad Institute for National Culture and Creativity
Tawfiq Ziyad Institute for National Culture and Creativity
The Daboriya Community Center for Developing Education, Culture and Sports
A collection of ephemera documenting the local activities and events of the Daboriya Community Center over the years.
The Sheikh Zaki Diab Community Center of Tamra
A collection of ephemera documenting the local activities and events of the Tamra Community Center over the years.
Majd al-Kurum Community Center, Dir. IbrahimHalailah
A collection of ephemera documenting the local activities and events of the Majd al-Kurum Community Center over the years.
The Arab Druze Initiative Committee
A collection of ephemera and placards documenting the activity of the Druze Initiative Committee over many years on the topics of identity, rights, land, and opposition to IDF conscription  through a focus on Jaleb Seyf, secretary of the Committee, and resident of Yahuh-Jat.
From the Collection of Sheikh Hussein Labeeb Abu Rukun-Isfiya
A collection of ephemera of the deceased Labeeb Abu Rukun, former head of the Isfiya Local Council and also a Member of Knesset, and his son, Hussein Abu Rukun – long may he live – who was a council member and businessman, as well as a religious figure recognized in many circles in Israel and abroad. The materials present their activity and milestones in the life of the Druze community in general, and on the Carmel in particular.
From the collection of Muhammad Kena'an -Mayor of Majd al-Kurum, 1993-2003
A collection of ephemera of Muhammad Kena’an, who served as director of the Majd al-Kurum Local Council from 1993-2003.The collection documents the council’s work in its early years and its various activity in the locality of Majd al-Kurum.
The Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students
An ephemera and placard collection from the organization for the Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab Students, through which the various activities of the organization and publications in student guidance can be viewed.
Rotem Nir Collection / Printed materials
Ordinary and extraordinary printed material from Israel and around the world, touching on all realms of artistic production. A living and breathing collection that takes shape randomly, through visits to both key and marginal centers of culture.
Heddy Or, Israeliana Collection
Heddy Or’s collection of Israeliana, collected carefully over the years, illuminates a unique angle of daily life in the Land of Israel, such as the wine industry from its beginnings, hotels in the yishuv, advertisements, greeting cards for the new year, and more.
Heddy Or, El Al Collection
The Heddy Or El Al Collection focuses on Israel’s national airline and its unique place in Israeli culture, tracing advertising products that it produced as well as many other items.
Jabotinsky Institute, Israel
The collection contains some 4,000 historical placards – public relations, propaganda, and political – that reflect important events in the history of the Jabotinsky movement in Israel and in the Diaspora, the Etzel and Lechi undergrounds, the Herut movement, the Herut Liberals Block (Gahal) and the Likud, beginning with the founding of Beitar in 1923, and continuing into the years of the State.
The Shamir Brothers Collection
All of the graphic works of the designers of the emblem of the State, the brothers Gabriel and Maxim Shamir, from 1930-1990. The works were designed for state, public and commercial entities in Israel and in twenty other countries. The collection presents all of Shamir’s graphic work: symbols and logos, postage stamps, paper currency, medals and coins, placards, newspaper announcements, book covers and packaging.
State Archive Collection
The collection of placards in the State Archives includes mainly placards printed by state agencies – the ministries of education and health, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Information Division and others. The collection affords a glimpse into the connection that the government of Israel maintained with the public through announcement boards and other platforms in the public space.
Collection of Declarations of the Munich Historical Commission, from the Yad VaShem Archives
The Yad Vashem Archive houses a collection of placards collected by the Central Historical Commission of Freed Jews in Munich from 1945-1948. The placards pertain to matters of culture, education, sport, and politics, and tell the story of Jews who lived in the displaced persons camps in Germany during the first years following World War II
Bezalel catalogue
“The Bezalel Catalogue” – established with the goal of documenting and preserving the visual history of Bezalel and the work of Bezalel graduates, and of creating a historical archive for the institution that would include projects of students at various stages of their studies, and document and make Bazalel's activity today accessible to the public. Every year, updated documentation of hundreds of new projects from all of the Bezalel departments are added to the collection: architecture, industrial design, ceramic and glass design, jewelry making and fashion, photography, art, screen arts, visual communication, as well as advanced degrees in art, industrial design and urban design. In addition, The Bezalel Catalogue carries out preservation and digitization of historical documentary collections of the various departments, and provides assistance in the digitization of private collections of artistic value.
The Art Library in Memory of Meir Arison, Tel Aviv Museum of Art
The collection of invitations at the Center for the Documentation of Israeli Art, which works in conjunction with the Art Library in Memory of Meir Arison, documents the art exhibits displayed in museums, galleries and cultural institutions in Israel from the 1920s to date.
Collection of the Feminist Archive, Jerusalem
A collection of one-off fanzines published in Israel at the beginning of the 21st century, from the Israeli Fanzine Archive. Most of the fanzines in the collection were published as part of the “A4” Project directed by Dudu Geva.
Institute for the Study of Folklore, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Joseph and Margret Hoffman Memorial Collection of Judaica postcards, including over 7,000 postcards created from the end of the 19th century up until the end of the 20th century, mostly from Eastern Europe, the United States and Israel, and a small number from Sephardic communities in Europe and North Africa. The postcards represent a wide variety of topics, such as synagogues, communities, and Jewish buildings, Jewish art and religious objects, Jewish characters, greeting cards for Rosh Hashanah, the Land of Israel and its landscape, portraits of Jewish personages, and general art on Jewish topics.