People standing holding colourful core-flutes/posters from the 2013 election
Core-flutes donated from the 2013 election, with National Library staff members.

The National Library of Australia is seeking community support to digitise its unique collection of election ephemera. Containing material from every federal election since 1901, and extending across all political perspectives, the collection offers a vivid history of democracy down under. The digitised material will then be made freely available on the National Library’s digital platform, Trove, which is used by millions of Australians each year.

The election ephemera collection is the largest collection of political memorabilia in Australia. It includes posters, corflutes, how-to-vote cards, brochures, flyers, stickers, t-shirts, badges, and hats – all the paraphernalia of the democratic process. This extraordinary collection allows readers to revisit the contest of ideas for each federal election as it was fought, seat by seat, and ballot box by ballot box.

The collection contains iconic materials, such as a ‘how to vote’ card for Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton. It reflects some landmark moments in Australian political history: from the election of the first female parliamentarians in 1943, to the double-dissolution election caused by the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Election literature is intended to be temporary – to be discarded once votes have been counted and victors declared. But for many years the National Library has impartially and comprehensively collected these objects for inclusion in the national collection. Many of these objects are donated to the Library not by the political parties, but by everyday Australians. This is very much a collection built by citizen collectors.

‘Telling the story of our democratic process plays a significant role in helping us to understand it,’ said the Director-General of the National Library, Dr Marie-Louise Ayres FAHA. ‘Sharing this collection online will be an important step in that process of understanding.’

While the government provided valuable funding for Trove in 2023, only 10% of the National Library’s collection is available online, so donations continue to help the National Library digitise its rich collections.

‘Donations from the public and from philanthropic foundations have allowed us to digitise dozens of the National Library’s extraordinary collections in recent years,’ said Dr Conor McCarthy, the National Library’s Director of Philanthropy. ‘These digitisation projects are helping us to transform public access to Australian culture and history, and none of these projects would have been possible without generous support from donors.’

The National Library’s appeal runs from 13 May to 30 June 2024. For more information or to donate, see the Library’s website:

The National Library has received over $10 million in philanthropic support since 2018.

Additional Information 

Images for media use are available for download via Dropbox.


Caitlin Nelson, Media Liaison, National Library of Australia  

M: 0401 226 697