Ephemera banner The California History Section has thousands of examples of ephemera, featuring some of the most beautiful and interesting items in the collection. Ephemera is made up of the printed materials of everyday life, usually intended to be used briefly and then discarded. These items give us a special feel for the time and the culture that produced them.

Items of note in the collection include a pennant from the first US aviation meet in Dominguez Hills in 1910, a menu from the reopening of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire, a reward poster for Black Bart issued by Wells Fargo & Company in 1888, and participant buttons from the Panama-Pacific International Expositions in 1915.

Our vertical file consists of pamphlets, promotional brochures, and flyers produced by counties, companies, and associations. There is also a large collection of programs for art events, concerts, fairs and expositions, plays, movies, and more. Our textual file includes items in a wide range of formats, including menus, posters, advertisements, proclamations, certificates, and shape books. The ephemera collection also contains California campaign literature and sheet music.


Many items are indexed in the California Information File. This is supplemented by special indexes and finding aids located in the California History Room.

Viewing ephemera

All ephemeral items must be viewed in our Rare Materials Reading Room. (This room is climate controlled to protect the collections housed there, and it can be chilly.) Cameras may be used, without flash, to make reference copies. The use of scanners is not allowed.

Obtaining reproductions

Photocopies of many items can be made by library staff. Photographic reproductions are also available. Certain ephemeral resources cannot be photocopied and can be reproduced by photographic reproduction or microfilming only, including items larger than 12 x 17 inches.

Zazzle.com logoReproductions of selected items may also be purchased from Zazzle.com