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Ephemera as historical sources

12 November, 2019 at 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM


Historical sources’ survival may be the result of chance rather than deliberate and careful preservation. How do historians locate and use material that was never designed to be retained? This seminar considers the importance of ephemera: material that carries printed information that was not intended to be kept or preserved.

The seminar will be facilitated by Mandy Bede, President of the Ephemera Society of Australia. We will hear three presentations, followed by questions from the audience and opportunity for discussion. The presentations are:

Out of the bag and into the archive: Royal Melbourne Show ephemera
Presenter: Dr Annette Shiell, Senior Curator Heritage, Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria
Abstract: From tickets, posters, prize cards and maps to the ubiquitous showbag, the Royal Melbourne Show is a treasure trove for the ephemerist. As collection objects and historical resources, Show ephemera are both invaluable records of a community event and evocative snapshots of life.

Where worlds collide: ephemera in science
Presenter: Rebecca Carland, Senior Curator, History of Collections & Scientific Art at Museums Victoria
Abstract: Charged with the history of collections at Museums Victoria, Rebecca researches the people and motivations that shaped the collection. In this talk she reveals the surprising depth that can come from using the often ignored ephemera of natural history. She will also touch on a recent project collecting ephemera from the School Strikes for Climate and their value in capturing this historic wave of youth protest.

Hazardous goods: the case of white lead in household paint
Presenter: Richard Aitken, a Melbourne-based historian, curator, and writer
Abstract: We tend to associate household paint charts and advertising leaflets with choice of colour or homemaking aspirations. Using ephemera as a primary documentary resource, this presentation will, however, chart another story—the popularity and decline of toxic lead-based paint.

Admission is free, but please book to reserve your seat.


12 November, 2019
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Event Categories:


History Council Victoria
0418 814 957


Old Treasury Building
20 Spring Street
East Melbourne, VIC 3002 Australia
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(03) 9651 2233