Wanted: your election material!

A request to the public to send us any federal election-related items for the collection

Every three years Australians go down to the local school, get a BBQ democracy-sausage, and elect a Federal Government. And every three years we try to collect an original copy of every piece of campaign material that is produced, to add to the national collection. To achieve that we need your help! To make it even easier to contribute, we have a reply paid address specifically for this collection. This means you can post any election material to us FOR FREE.

Satirical badges from cartoonist "First dog on the moon" (2010)

Satirical badges from the "First dog on the moon" cartoon (2010)

The word ephemera literally means ‘not meant to last’ but we believe political ephemera will help historians of the future understand the political landscape in 2013 - and to compare it to our political collection stretching right back to 1901. We are trying to contact every political party, candidate as well as every lobby group active at this election. But it is not possible to do this alone. Please share this with your friends and contacts. Some of the rarer ephemera items and posters already in the collection include: a 1924 cloth poster stating "Correct electoral enrolment is compulsory – penalty for failure not exceeding £2"; a set of Crikey’s First Dog on the Moon badges (including the slogan "don't blame me, I voted for the ABC interpretive dance bandicoot"); and an unofficial "bean poll" from a coffee shop where customers were invited to put a coffee-bean in a tube corresponding with their preference.

Some of the older election material in the collection

Some of the older election material in the collection.

What are we searching for?

  • Any published leaflets, letters, 'how to vote' cards, posters, pamphlets, badges, stickers, hats, cardboard cutouts, DVDs and any other political material. The more unusual the item the better.
  • We are particularly interested in receiving material from marginal electorates, from communities with specific local issues as well as from regional and remote Australia.
  • Any material that arrives through your mailbox or is handed to you in person from candidates/parties, political lobby groups and especially from unofficial sources with a political agenda.
  • The Library's PANDORA service also archives election-based websites - those hosted by registered parties, lobby groups and also politically focused blogs. Please send any suggested sites for archiving to the Web Archiving team.

Where do I send it? We have a reply-paid address to send items to us for free. If you are in Canberra you can also deliver things in person. Equally, if you can collect duplicates of the same item we have a sharing arrangement with all State Libraries which also collect material about their state's campaign. Our address is:

Federal Election Campaign Ephemera Australian Collection Development National Library of Australia Reply Paid E202 (Box 6153) Kingston. ACT. 2604.

Coreflute posters for prominent women in politics (various years)

Coreflute posters for prominent women in politics (various years)

Why do we want all this?

As part of the National Library's role to collect, preserve and share the history of Australia, we have a responsibility to the historians of the future to learn how this election happened, what issues were important, how the campaign was conducted (officially and unofficially) and who was active in the debate. The more unusual the items, the more interesting the story will be to the researchers of the future. For example, when you compare the material for one candidate over a long time in public life you can see how their approach changed. Equally, it is instructive to see how some issues rise and fall in the public interest over time - with positive and negative election material to match. To learn more about our existing collection you can access the Finding aid to Federal election campaign ephemera ( 1901-2010) from our website. What if I have a question? You can contact us in a variety of ways about this election ephemera campaign. On Twitter we are @NLAgovau. We will be trying to contact every candidate, party and lobby group by phone, email or social media. You can ask us a question there or help us get the word out by retweeting us and telling your friends and political junkie contacts to keep an eye out for us. To talk directly to our team please use our Ask A Librarian service. You can also read the press release and contact the Library's media officer.

The election "bean poll" with original coffeebeans. The poll roughly matched the national result (2010)

The election "bean poll" with original coffeebeans placed by customers. The poll roughly matched the national result (2010)

We also work closely with Electionleaflets.org.au which is an independent project to create a live visualisation of party political leaflets as they are delivered across the country during the election campaign. Before you send your leaflets to us, ElectionLeaflets asks that you photograph or scan them and upload the images to their website where they can be mapped by party and electorate. Anything sent to ElectionLeaflets in the mail will, after scanning, be forwarded to us. ElectionLeaflets is operated by the charity OpenAustralia Foundation.

UPDATE  - Friday 9 September A lot of material is already started coming in. Thank you everyone who has sent material. Here are some of our favourites thus far:

This is just some of the official, and not-so-official, flyers that are doing the rounds across the country from all different political persuasions.

This is just some of the official, and not-so-official, flyers that are doing the rounds across the country from all different political persuasions.

T-shirts are a perennial favourite piece of merchandise but we also collect stickers, badges and other more obscure items. This year first the first time sees DVDs used as a political promotion method.

T-shirts are a perennial favourite piece of merchandise but we also collect stickers, badges and other more obscure items. This year first the first time sees DVDs used as a political promotion method.

Some larks have printed masks of prominent politicians with pop-out eyes - so you can pretend to be your [least] favourite!

Some larks have printed masks of prominent politicians with pop-out eyes - so you can pretend to be your (least) favourite.