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College Archives


Greetings from F&M: Old Postcard Views of Campus


Brief History of the Postcard

While small souvenir cards had existed prior to the introduction of the postcard, the first modern, mailable postcard appeared in Europe in 1869. When the United States Post Office introduced the "postal card" in 1873 it was the only entity authorized to produce and distribute them until 1898. In 1898 the Post office allowed the production of "private mailing cards" which were required to carry the term on the postcard. The term "post card" could only be used on U.S. Post office-produced cards up until 1901. After 1901, the Post office allowed the term "post card" to be used on any cards of this type. However, the previous law restricting all written messages to the opposite side (even if one had to write on the image), and where only the mailing address could be written on the stamped side, remained in place. This period from 1901-1907 is known by collectors as the "Undivided back era". In 1907, the Post office allowed the card to be divided on the side opposite the image so that a mailing address and message could be written. During this time Germany dominated postcard manufacturing, until WWI, when American printers began widescale postcard production. In 1915 a new era emerged where a white border was added around the image on the postcard. Presumably to save ink, this look continued to be used on postcards produced through the "Linen era (1930-1944)." In addition to the white border, linen postcards are distinguished by the texture of the card stock they were printed on. Around 1939 the modern photochrome (color) postcard emerged. The F&M postcards seen here date from the Undivided back era (1901-1907) through the modern era.

Old Main (Constructed 1854)

Watts-dePeyster Library (Constructed 1897)

Campus View (ca. 1900)

Science Building (Constructed 1900)

Academy Building (Constructed 1908)

Hensel Hall (Constructed 1925)

Fackenthal Library (Constructed 1937)

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