Notes on collections at the RIHS
The Encyclopedia of Ephemera [a.] lists over 500 categories of ephemera that have been created over the years. Ephemera have always been a challenge to archivists and librarians not only in how items are cataloged but how they are stored.
Often, the research value is not fully seen in items that were produced to be thrown away once their usefulness was attained. An example of this can be seen in something as basic as a restaurant menu. While the informational value, such as pricing and options to choose from, in a menu is designed for the here and now, the long term research value can be seen as demonstrating how many Thai or Italian restaurants were in business during a certain time period and what types of food are offered for sale.
The RIHS has cataloged a portion of its Menu Collection and it can be found in our online catalog, NETOP. For example, in Providence, one can see how many Japanese restaurants were serving delicious food in the early 20th century.
Some other interesting examples of ephemera that the Society holds can be seen here:
a. The Ephemera Society of America. http://www.ephemerasociety.org/news/news-encyclopedia.html (accessed 2013_06_26)
Written by James DaMico. Librarian