Our Ephemera Collection

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 material 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.

From the National Library Ephemera Collection