Ephemera is derived from the Greek word ephemeros meaning short-lived or meant to last for only one day. Collectors, however, have a tendency to extend the life expectancy of these tidbits of history preserving them for generations to come. There are some items that are considered ephemera that were actually meant to be kept such as trading cards, photographs, memorial cards, land grants, and souvenirs. Other items are meant to be used once and discarded such as napkins, stamps, newspapers, tickets, magazines, and advertisements.
Ephemera is present in our everyday lives in the form of flyers, junk mail, utility bills, receipts, pamphlets, greeting cards and the like. There are literally hundreds of categories into which ephemera can be divided some of those being military memorabilia, maps, brochures, letters, prints, popcorn bags, historical documents, business cards, etc.
Did you know that you are a collector of Ephemera? Everyone collects ephemera in some form or fashion. Surely you have kept a birthday card from a loved one, a birth certificate, a title, a certificate of achievement, or an insurance policy. All of that is considered ephemera! Sometimes we save these things because we will need them again in the future, but usually it is the sentimental value of the items that drives us to tuck them away in the odds and ends drawer.
Whether you are a serious collector of Ephemera or just the casual, unintentional collector, every now and then something just catches the eye. You may enjoy horseback riding and stave away the occasional piece of cowboy ephemera. Perhaps a musician has a collection of sheet music, or a mechanic a collection of automotive ephemera. Whichever way to slice it, ephemera is part of life whether your intention is to preserve the past or to just take a walk down memory lane.