ephemera material ticket stub from performance of Nellie Melba
26 November, Princess Theatre, Melbourne. Nellie Melba as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor (mad scene), nla.obj-2997930084

Archived Websites for Ephemera

Archived websites are available through the Australian Web Archive. These useful tools allow you to discover Ephemera from Australia and overseas, and more general ephemera related to subjects other than performing arts.  

selected ephemera items from Dame Edna, glasses, case and play bill
Humphries, Barry. & National Library of Australia.  (1950).  [Humphries, Barry, Australian born actor, artist and author : theatre programmes, etc, nla.obj-61017157

About the PROMPT ephemera collection

This section of the Performing Arts research guide focuses on the PROMPT ephemera collection at the National Library of Australia.

The PROMPT ephemera collection is derived from the Australian Performing Arts Programs and Ephemera file. The term 'prompt' is also a theatrical term relating to the means by which actors/singers are supplied the lines they have forgotten.

The National Library has been collecting ephemera since 1901 however many of the items in the collection date back much further. The PROMPT collection became a focused area of collection development in the 1980s. Before this time the acquisition and processing of printed performing arts ephemera material was incorporated retrospectively into the Australian printed ephemera collection.

These archives of ephemera material document the long and rich history of live performance in Australia, and Australians performing overseas. The collection has also been the focus of several books, magazine articles and exhibitions in the Library. They include programs, brochures, cast lists, publicity material, posters and flyers relating to professional companies, artists, and productions.

Finding PROMPT ephemera 

The catalogue is the primary tool researchers can use to discover PROMPT ephemera material held by the National Library of Australia. 

PROMPT material is arranged predominantly by individual artist (e.g. Nellie Melba) or company (e.g. Bangarra Dance Theatre) or entrepreneur’s name (e.g., J.C. WilliamsonGarnet H. Carroll).

To search ephemera collections related to performing arts, simply add ‘prompt’ to a keyword search, for example: 'prompt Bangarra Dance Company'.

You can also review the thesauri or lists of the subject titles used to file general ephemera (PDF, 1315KB) and trade catalogues ephemera (PDF, 170KB).

Visit the Finding performing arts material page of this research guide to learn more information about different search techniques and how to find PROMPT material in the National Library collection, including ephemera.

Individual collection finding aids (in alphabetical order)

A finding aid is a document containing information about a specific collection of records. The finding aid is a guide to what is held in the collection, and a guide to help you request, and view material.

Some of the larger PROMPT ephemera collections include an individual finding aid and there is a dedicated ephemera collection finding aid, Guide to Australian performing arts programs and ephemera (PROMPT) collections in the National Library of Australia, 2022.

Albert Whelan  

Anna Pavlova

Annie Get Your Gun

Australian performers in UK pantomimes

Ballet Rambert

Ballet Russes

Barry Humphries             

Charles Zwar

Clara Butt

Coral Browne

Cyril Ritchard

Dame Joan Hammond

Dame Joan Sutherland

Dame Judith Anderson

Florence Austral

Frank Allenby

Garnet H Carroll Management

June Bronhill

Keith Michell     

Kirsova Ballet

Kylie Minogue

Marie Lohr         

McCallum Withers

Michael Blakemore

Noel Tovey

Oscar Asche

Percy Grainger

Phillip Street Theatre

Reginald McKern

Rolf Harris

Sharp Collection

Sir Robert Helpmann

Tivoli Theatre (Vaudeville)

William Anderson

Zoe Caldwell

Tags: Arts
lime green theatre program from Anna Pavlova performance.
Pavlova, Anna. & National Library of Australia.  (1926).  [Pavlova, Anna : her Australian tours, 1926, 1929 : theatre programmes, ephemera, nla.obj-3043674320

Discovery Video: The PROMPT Collection

Title card for Discovery Video - The PROMPT Collection

Watch our discovery video The PROMPT Collection to find out more about the PROMPT ephemera, including what you can expect to find in these collections.

Not sure where to start?