Before television, radio, and the internet, Florida society communicated widely and often through broadsides, advertisements, flyers, and other ephemera. This online collection consists of more than 200 broadsides and forms of paper communication from the State Library and Archives of Florida.
While originally initiated by State Librarian and Archivist Dorothy Dodd as a broadside collection, it has since grown to encompass all sorts of printed ephemera from advertisements and announcements to political cartoons and campaign posters. This online collection represents only a small portion of broadsides and ephemera found in the Florida Collection of the State Library of Florida.
Broadsides are traditionally considered to be large, one-sided printed posters used for public communication. These were usually posted in prominent public spaces such as churches, street corners, and town halls.
Typical examples of broadsides include campaign posters, playbills, public notices, announcements, petitions, proclamations, and advertisements. But paper-bound communications were not limited to broadsides, and included pamphlets, cards, tickets, blank forms, flyers, reprinted newspaper articles, and political cartoons.
These materials are often referred to as ephemera because of their transitory nature - in other words they were meant to quickly convey a message and were then to be disposed of.
Fortunately for us and for future generations, much of this material was saved. Today they offer a unique window into Florida's past in much the same way that billboards, television and newspaper ads, emailed spam, and blogs will explain and reveal much about our present society to tomorrow's historians.