What do pamphlets from the late 18th c. French Revolution and fliers in support of a radical professor in the 1960s and 70s have in common? They were printed and handed out by people supporting radical causes, and they are both classified as archival ephemera.
According to the Society of American Archivists, ephemera documents are “created for a specific, limited purpose, and generally designed to be discarded after use.” Basically, no one meant for such items to last, but they have, and since they give us valuable information about important events, they have been preserved anyway. Labeling things “ephemera” is the archivists’ equivalent of saying, “This stuff might not be pretty, but it’s still pretty cool.”
Did you know Hoole Special Collections Library has an extensive collection of French Revolutionary Pamphlets? They include writings by some of the best known political players of the day, including Robespierre, St. Juste, Desmoulins, and Danton.
This is a Speech of Maximilien Robespierre on how to save the state and freedom:
Another promises Mysteries of iniquity unveiled:
Fast forward almost 200 years. Alabama native Angela Davis was a philosophy professor at UCLA in the late 1960s and 1970s, and her radical views on everything from gender to race to economics made her a hero to some and persona non grata to others. Click on the image below to read more about her:
The Angela Davis Ephemera Collection includes materials related to the early 1970s movement to have her freed from prison — she was accused and eventually acquitted of conspiring to murder a judge — along with materials related to her campaigns to win the seat of U.S. vice-president as part of the Communist ticket in the 1980s.
Hoole Library houses several other collections of ephemera, including Alabama Election Ephemera. While this collection has yet to be digitized, you can see the finding aid online in Acumen, so that you know if you should make a trip to Hoole to see these items in person.