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Artificial and Ephemeral Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 060
Political Posters in Dig DC
Political Posters in Dig DC
Washingtoniana Ephemera Collection in Dig DC
Washingtoniana Ephemera Collection in Dig DC

Scope and Contents

The collection contains letters, programs, meeting minutes, speeches, event tickets, brochures, pamphlets, invitations, financial records, legislative materials, political memorabilia, and other rare items dating primarily from the 19th through the mid- 20th century.

Of particular significance are letters, petitions, and legislative acts documenting the work of elected and appointed mayors; a Board of Alderman; and City Councils from 1802 through the early 1870s in the “Politics and Government Series.” The District had an appointed Mayor and elected City Council from 1802 through 1812; in 1812 a Charter amendment allowed for the election of all city officials.

Another important series includes the newsletters, correspondence, flyers, programs, and yearbooks of the numerous civic, social, and cultural organizations starting in the late 19th century. These materials are primarily in two series: “Civic and Citizens Associations,” and “Societies, Clubs and Organizations.” Other notable items include Congressional speeches on the abolition of slavery from 1833 through the 1860s; guidebooks and published descriptions of Washington, D.C.; musical scores celebrating Washington, D.C. history and events; architectural specifications for the U.S. Capitol, House Office Building, Post Office and other local buildings; local business advertising; documentation for the founding and development of the Washington City Canal; Centennial memorabilia and programs; letters and autographs of famous persons and families; and publications and programs about or from churches, colleges, and schools in the District.


  • Creation: 1769


Some materials within this collection may be copyrighted and it is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission to publish any reproductions.

Biographical / Historical

Collection artificially created by D.C. Public Library


27.5 Linear feet

55 Boxes

Language of Materials



Series 1: Advertisements Series 2: African-Americans Series 3: Airports Series 4: Apartments Series 5: Art Galleries Series 6: Artists and Art Series 7: Autographs Series 8: Bags and Envelopes Series 9: Banks Series 10: Bicentennial Series 11: Biography Series 12: Bridges Series 13: Buildings Series 14: Business Series 15: Calendars Series 16: Calling/Business Cards Series 17: Canals Series 18: Cartoons Series 19: Cemeteries Series 20: Centennial Series 21: Charity Series 22: Children Series 23: Children and Convalescent Homes Series 24: Churches Series 25: Circles and Squares Series 26: City Planning Series 27: Civil Defense Series 28: Civil War Series 29: Colleges and Universities Series 30: Correspondence Series 31: Crime Series 32: Description of Washington D.C. Series 33: Discrimination Series 34: Embassies Series 35: Ethnic Groups Series 36: Events Series 37: Exhibitions Series 38: Fire Department Series 39: Flags Series 40: Funerals Series 41: Gardening Series 42: Geology Series 43: Halls Series 44: Health Series 45: Hospitals Series 46: Hotels Series 47: Houses Series 48: Housing Series 49: Inaugurations Series 50: Invitations Series 51: Land Records Series 52: Lectures, Speeches and Meetings Series 53: Libraries Series 54: Liquor Series 55: Lottery Series 56: Maps Series 57: Markets Series 58: Military Series 59: Militia Series 60: Monuments and Memorials Series 61: Mosques Series 62: Moving Pictures Series 63: Museums Series 64: Music Series 65: Newsletters Series 66: Newspapers Series 67: Parades Series 68: Parks Series 69: Photography Series 70: Picketing, Protests and Demonstrations Series 71: Playgrounds Series 72: Police Department Series 73: Politics and Government Series 74: Population Series 75: Presidents in Washington Series 76: Prisons and Reformatories Series 77: Prohibition and Temperance Series 78: Real Estate Series 79: Residential Sections Series 80: Restaurants Series 81: Rivers Series 82: Schools Series 83: Societies, Clubs and Organizations Series 84: Sports Series 85: Stickers Series 86: Streets Series 87: Synagogues Series 88: Theatre and Theatres Series 89: Tickets Series 90: Tourism Series 91: Transportation Series 92: Trees Series 93: Water Supply Series 94: Waterfront Series 95: World War I Series 96: World War II Series 97: Zoo

Custodial History

The collection was artificially created by the D.C. Public Library and primarily consists of rare and/or historical documents, which were removed from the Washingtoniana Vertical File Collection to ensure their preservation. Small groupings of materials and single items donated to D.C. Public Library which are not placed in the vertical files are added to this collection regularly.

Processing Information

Pre-1980 primary source materials and rare historical items such as letters, political memorabilia, catalogs, and meeting minutes were filed in the Vertical File Collection. In the 1980s rare and/or historical items were removed from the vertical files to ensure their preservation. Generally, all items have been filed under the same or similar topics established for the Vertical File Collection. Oversized documents were placed in a map case or oversized containers, and a separation sheet was inserted in the original location to indicate the new location. Photocopies of some original items have been placed in the Vertical File Collection for increased patron access. In 2018, the original collection was rehoused and increased preservation measures (sleeving or individual foldering) for many items were performed. A selection criteria for additions to the collection was also drafted and approved. Folders within the boxes are arranged first alphabetically and then chronologically, when applicable. When a topic contains general or undated materials, those items appear first in the chronological order.

Artificial and Ephemeral
An inventory of the Artificial and Ephemera Collection at D.C. Public Library
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001