Maria Trojanowska, Wydawnictwa efemeryczne w archiwach - problemy gromadzenia i opracowania. Artykuł dyskusyjny, w: Archeion, t. 105, wyd. NDAP, Warszawa 2003, ss. 101-135
"Maria T r o j a n o w s k a, Ephemera in the archives — the issues of collecting and elaborating.
Discussion. In preliminary remarks, the author presents the centres dealing with collecting publications
which in libraries are usually placed in „documents of civil life” sections, while in archives – included
into the collections of posters, affiches and ephemera. Attention is drawn to the selection of those
publications made by libraries despite of a promoted approach that all of them should be gathered as the
illustration of social life at a given time, in a specific social, political and cultural situation. While Polish
legal provisions clearly make space for those printed materials in libraries, as far as archives are
concerned, neither the existing act on archives, nor internal regulations and chancellery standards make
an explicit reference to that type of documents.
Considering the issue of gathering the ephemera by archives, the author examines the methods and
the scope of gathering in the present practice of state archives and makes some indications for the future.
The own initiative of workers of archives seems to be a prevailing method of acquiring new material, and
to a much lesser degree, the initiative of publishers or owners. It is symptomatic, that as far as the
territorial scope of ephemera collections is concerned, they are not the subject of the territorial pertinence
principle adopted in the archives, although local and regional publications prevail. They are also
significantly varied in respect to subject-matter, and it would be difficult to indicate uniform criteria
applied by archives regarding the selection of such publications. However, the prevailing number of
prints of political contents, particularly regarding election campaigns, connected with the activity of
political parties and groups, or significant historical events on a national (e.g. the Solidarity movement) or
regional scale is easy to notice. Other materials usually collected include theatre bills, often separated into
independent collections, prints referring to economic or social issues. In view of the observed freedom in
the current practice, the author postulates to apply in the future – due to a dramatic growth of this type of
publications – the general archive materials collection standards to respect to this category. Firstly, the
territorial provenance standard: the taking over of ephemera exclusively from the territory subordinated
to the competence of the archives. Simultaneously, the fond affiliation principle should be followed –
those materials should be collected, first of all, which complement the records already taken over or
produced by subordinated organizational units the materials of which will be transferred to the archives in
the future. As regards extra-fond prints – the gathering should be continued of prints related to elections
to central or local authorities from various election committees, as well as those that document events of
historical significance for the region (micro-scale).
Another extensive subject is the elaboration of ephemera in the archives. This includes the issue of
segregation aimed at the separation of collective prints (if not doubled), as the principle of respecting the
entirety of an archival fond should be absolutely observed. The creation of collections separated, for
example, according to the chronological (e.g. ephemera from the period of the Nazi occupation) or
subject criterion (e.g. theatre related materials) may also be considered as a specific type of segregation.
Another important stage of archival elaboration is the systematization (classification), consisting in
the achievement of the most transparent, functional arrangement of units within a given collection. It is
about the choice of the decisive systematization criterion: the publisher (issuer) of the print, its contents,
form, or chronology of origin. In the author’s opinion, the only criterion which meets the expectations of
potential users is the contents of ephemeral publications. This criterion may be applied in respect to
various types of collections of prints, with a system of inter-departmental references or those on lower
levels of subject-related divisions (groups, sub-groups, entries) being an additional element facilitating
Prior to the presentation of an exemplary arrangement scheme of ephemera within a collection, the
author makes an attempt to bring order to the terminology in respect to defining and determining the
names of these materials, usually followed quite freely. Based on the available lexicographic publications
and other studies, the author proposes to introduce the following basic terms referring to ephemera, both
in traditional finding aids and in databases: affiche, poster, leaflet, brochure, press.
Another issues discussed is the inventorying. In this context, the author considers the concept of an
archival unit and an inventory unit, not always synonymous. An archival unit is each physically separate
print. In archives which decided to follow the individual inventorying of each print, it is at the same time
an inventory unit with its own reference number. In cases, however, where the subject is considered as the
archival unit (in some archives and in many libraries), an inventory unit may include many prints
(archival units). The author advocates the inventorying of unit prints, and not collectively, within the
scope of subjects (referring marginally to the issue of doubles).
A similarly non-uniform practice may also be observed in respect to reference numbers of prints:
next to sequential reference numbers of numerus currens type for entire collections inventoried on
a unit basis, sequential numbering is also used for subjects, i.e. collective inventory units, or within
subject groups or groups separated according to other criteria, in which individual prints are numbered
from 1 to x. However, in the last two cases, the reference number of a unit has a multi-segmental form
(with repeated symbols of groups of higher levels and a sequence number of the print). The author lists
the advantages and disadvantages of both the above mentioned versions of reference numbers and
suggests one more possibility: the introduction of a sequential reference number as an identification mark
of each archival unit, increasing with the inflow of prints, which would then be directed to proper subject
groups, not taking over, however, any possible symbols introduced to identify those groups. Thus, units
grouped on a subject basis would have only a numerical reference number, not necessarily with numbers
in sequence. This solution seems particularly useful in the course of inventorying in computer databases.
Referring to various names of findings aids used in the archives to elaborate the ephemera, the author
provides characteristics of a catalogue and an inventory stressing that both terms can be properly used
although these aids differ, which is particularly clear in respect to the reference number of a unit: in an
inventory, a subsequent number of an inventory item constitutes at the same time a reference number,
while in a catalogue such a number, if introduced, refers only to the position of an item within the
catalogue, while its reference number is entirely different, mostly placed as the last element of the
description of that item. The author presents the view that a card inventory made on standard NDAP-3
cards (fields 1–9) filled in for every first copy of the print should be the basic traditional finding aid for
Next, the author makes a thorough analysis of subsequent elements of inventory description of prints
with the objective to make it uniform in terms of contents, form and external description. It is suggested
that the following data should be included in the standard description (with reference to subsequent fields
of an inventory card): name or registration number of the archives, name of the fond or collection, as well
as of the department, group, sub-group; reference number; title, i.e. graphically distinguished part of the
text; incipit – concise, initial part of the text allowing to identify printed materials; regest (summary), and
in the case of posters, word-for-word quoting of the text; name of the author of the presentation (issuer,
principal) – an office or an institution, or a full name of an individual author with his function specified;
year (possibly a detailed date) and the place of presentation; name and location of a printing house; size;
number of sheets; material used, if other than paper; manufacturing technique, if other than print;
language, if other than Polish; number of copies, if more than one; state of preservation; specific type
(poster, affiche, etc.); author (for posters); colour of paper, if other than white, and print, if other than
black; mono- or multicoloured decorative elements, e.g. bordure, vignette, imprint; reference to the fond
(collection) where the same copy is kept; former reference numbers; bibliographic description of
a publication containing a reproduction of an archived item or its copy (summary), reference to other
archives (libraries) preserving the same print, reference to another department, group, sub-group linked
by subject; possible other remarks, e.g. those on provenience.
Another aid that – according to the author – could be introduced in the archives is the card catalogue
of ephemeral publications, based on the same standard card. The most important element here would be
the corporate entry (e.g. 3rd May Constitution) with reference numbers provided of all units related to that
entry. The author provides samples of filled in inventory and catalogue cards.
The necessity to develop the following indexes is underlined and their scope suggested: subject index.
(in principle it may be a substitute of the catalogue discussed above), geographic and personal indexes.
To conclude, the author makes a brief reference to the AFISZ database pointing out that the internal
structure of a collection, so important for traditional elaboration and searching, is of secondary
importance in the event of a database inventory since developed search engines and properly constructed
so-called identification reference numbers (archives number/fond number/item reference number/page)
make it possible to retrieve any printed material within archives, fonds and collections, which is an
unquestionable advantage of a database. The author is also aware of its drawbacks and makes some
suggestions to correct them."
Źródło: Archeion, t. 105