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Ephemera are printed material developed for a very short life or duration. The term derives from the Greek word "ephemeron" meaning something short lived or transitory. Ephemera can include anything from an airline boarding pass to campaign posters to the ticket from last night's movie. Although designed to be discarded after use, ephemera is also collectible and some items can become quite valuable such as baseball and campaign ephemera.

Items of ephemera can be of significant value in genealogy, indicating something of a person's life and activities; and where a name is included on the material, can serve to pinpoint a person in time and place. Considered non-traditional sources, items of ephemera are often discarded by family members, especially after a generation or two, when they seem less relevant; however, such items may provide important clues and information many years down the road and should be carefully evaluated before being discarded.

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