Sir George Grey Special Collections


Heritage Images. Theatre poster for 'The Great Sorcar' - World's Greatest Magician.Posters, brochures, flyers, programmes, and other short-lived, ‘ephemeral’ items are held in in Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Ephemera is a term for printed material originally intended to have a limited life-span, such as programmes, posters, tickets, flyers, and cards.

These items were originally produced to pass on details about specific issues, activities, events, products, and services.

Why collect ephemera?

Libraries collect ephemera because it enhances information found in longer-lasting documents to give us a more “complete picture of life at a given point in time“.

Some of this “throwaway“ material has considerable visual appeal because it often combines text with images and photographs.

What ephemera collections does Sir George Grey Special Collections hold?

Sir George Grey Special Collections on the second floor of the Central City Library holds three ephemera collections. Items date from the 1840s to the present day.

Old Colonists’ Museum Collection

A collection of items from Auckland's colonial days, which came to the library after the Old Colonists' Museum closed in the 1950s. 

Freida Dickens Programme Collection

A collection of music, dance and theatre programmes from 1911-1976 donated by Miss Freida Dickens who worked at His Majesty’s Theatre.

New Zealand Ephemera Collection

A growing collection divided into two sequences, one according to type, the other according to subject matter, with items from 1860s to the present day. Types of ephemera in this collection include advertising flyers, cards, calendars, menus and tickets.

Subject areas currently collected include entertainment, performing arts (especially dance and theatre), social and community issues, recreation, food and drink, fashion, war, local and general elections, sports, and the environment.

How can I locate ephemera?

You can locate ephemera using our Ephemera Index database.

At present the Ephemera Index lists individual items of ephemera generated for and by these activities, issues and events:

  • beauty contests and queen carnivals
  • carnivals and pageants
  • clubs and societies
  • dances
  • festivals
  • films
  • history
  • jubilees
  • shows and exhibitions
  • theatre
  • tourism
  • war.

A search on the index will also provide basic information about more than 90 other events, issues and activities not yet listed individually on the index. The Ephemera Librarian and other Sir George Grey Special Collections’ staff can assist in finding these unlisted items as well as examples of specific types of ephemera. Contact us for further information.

Where can I look at ephemera?

Items from the ephemera collection may be viewed in Sir George Grey Special Collections’ reading room.

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