About These Documents

The Florida Broadsides & Ephemera Collection consists of ordinary printed matter found throughout the holdings of the State Library & Archives of Florida. Advertisements, broadsides, menus, certificates, campaign literature, currency, tickets, pamphlets, and receipts are just a few of the artifacts of daily life that make up the collection.

"Ephemera," as this broad category of documents is often collectively known, illuminates the history of a society by tracing the ordinary daily activities of its citizens. Unlike letters, diaries, and other historical records, ephemeral documents generally are not meant to last. They are usually designed to communicate a very specific - and often temporary - message before being thrown away or replaced by something more current.

When they survive, however, these documents offer a unique snapshot of the historical moment in which they were created. A broadside endorsing a certain policy or candidate for office, for example, offers insight into the political debates of that era. A railroad timetable from 1905 can help pinpoint the location of a logging town that no longer exists. A printed program from the dedication of a new building in 1920 can help identify the architect and the ones responsible for its funding and construction. In many cases, this kind of information is difficult to extract from other sources.

The documents in this collection offer only a sampling of the ephemera found in the holdings of the State Library & Archives. Each item's parent collection, record series, or library call number is identified to facilitate further research. Also, see the Related Resources page for a list of collections particularly rich in additional ephemera.

Related Resources