Washington, D.C. Postcard Collection, ca. 1898-1940s

Washington, D.C. Postcard Collection, ca. 1898-1940s

Finding Aid

Collection No. P30 (3 Linear Feet)
D.C. Community Archives

Provenance

The postcards in this collection have been donated ongoing to the Washingtoniana Division since circa 1934.

History

As common as American society considers the postcard today, it was not until the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago that the first souvenir “post cards” were available for purchase in the United States. These cards featured illustrations of the various fair buildings printed on government-issued postal cards and privately printed souvenir cards. The government postal cards were imprinted with one-cent indicias while the privately printed souvenir cards required two-cents postage to be applied. Writing was not permitted on the address side of these cards.

Five years passed before private printers were granted, by an act of Congress on May 19, 1898, permission to print and sell post cards that bore the inscription Private Mailing Card.  These cards could now be mailed at the same one-cent rate as the government issued cards.

The federal government granted use of the word "Post Card" to private printers on Dec. 24, 1901. Writing was still not permitted on the address side. Use of post cards with “divided backs,” allowing both the address and a message on one side, was permitted on March 1, 1907. Thus marked the beginning in which millions, if not billions, of Washington, D.C. post cards have been printed and sold.

Besides depicting images of places that may no longer exist, postcards often contain messages offering documentation representative of a time and place.  From observations of historic events to matters of personnel concern, insights are given into the life and times of the postcard's sender.  

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of three linear feet, consisting of about 2000 postcards and 24 postcard folders. The earliest postcards in the collection date from circa 1898. Due to Washington, D.C.’s continual focus as a tourist destination, contemporary postcards continue to be added to the collection. The greatest percentage of material dates from the 1920s to the 1940s.

The collection consists almost exclusively of imprinted (ink) postcards with less than a dozen being of the “real-photo” (gelatin silver) variety.  The collection leans heavily towards images of tourist Washington but many images of “hometown” Washington are included as well (Businesses, Churches, Organizations, Restaurants, Schools – Private/Public, Stores, and Streets).

Postcards are arranged by specific subject headings.  Please use the marker provided in each box to assure that postcards are returned to their proper place.  Further information on deltiology, or postcard collecting, may be learned by visiting the following web sites.

Box Inventory

Box 1

  • Aerial Views
  • Agriculture, Dept. of
  • Airports – National
  • American Red Cross
  • Archives Building
  • Arlington Cemetery
  • Army War College
  • Art Galleries
    • Corcoran
    • Freer
    • National
    • Phillips
  • Auditoriums – Washington
  • Banks – American Security and Trust Co.
  • Baseball
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Bridges
    • Arlington Memorial
    • Cabin John
    • Connecticut Avenue
    • Key
  • Businesses
    • Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Building
    • Arcade
    • Draughon’s Practical Business College
    • Evening Star
    • Greyhound
    • Realty Title Insurance Co. Inc.
    • Smith, F.G. Piano Co.
    • Southern Railway
    • Taylor’s Drugstore
    • Towles Studio, Photographer
    • Velatis
    • Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Electrical Railway Co.
    • White Cross Milk Co.
    • Wilson Line Steamer
  • Canals
    • C & O
    • Great Falls
  • Capitol
    • Art
    • Bronze Doors
    • Dome
    • East Elevation
    • House Chamber
    • Old Supreme Court Chamber
    • President’s Room
    • Senate Chamber
    • Statuary Hall
    • West Elevation
  • Cherry Trees
  • Churches
    • Baptist
      • Calvary
    • Catholic
      • Franciscan Monastery
      • Holy Trinity
      • National Shrine
      • Sacred Heart
      • St. Matthew’s
      • St. Stephen Martyr

Box 2

  • Churches (cont.)
    • Christian
      • National
    • Christian Science
      • First Church
      • Fourth Church of Christ
    • Episcopal
      • St. Alban’s
      • St. John’s (Lafayette Square)
      • St. Thomas
      • Washington Cathedral
        • Exterior
        • Grounds
        • Interior
    • Lutheran
      • First Trinity
      • Georgetown
      • Luther Place Memorial
    • Methodist
      • Foundry
      • Metropolitan
      • Mount Vernon
    • Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
    • Presbyterian
      • Central
      • Church of the Covenant
      • First
      • New York Avenue
      • Sixth
    • Unitarian
      • All Souls
    • United Church of Christ
      • First Congregational
      • Graced Reformed
  • Circles
    • Dupont
    • Thomas
  • City Hall
  • Colleges and Universities
    • American
    • Catholic
    • Georgetown
    • Howard
    • Trinity
    • War College
  • Commerce, Dept. of.
  • Constitution Hall
  • Continental Memorial Hall
    • Exterior
    • Interior
  • District Building
  • Embassies
    • China
    • Germany
    • Great Britain
    • Japan
    • Russian
  • Engraving and Printing, Bureau of
  • Events
    • Bonus Expeditionary Force, 1932
    • Misc.
  • Exhibits
    • Santa Maria on Washington Waterfront, Maine Ave., & M St., SW
  • Federal Reserve
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Federal Triangle
  • Folger Shakespeare Library
    • Exterior
    • Interior
  • Food Administration Building, U.S.
  • Fountains
    • Bartholdi
    • Capitol Plaza
    • Columbus
    • Court of Neptune (Library of Congress)
  • Georgetown
  • Government Printing Office (GPO)
  • “Greetings From Washington”
  • Hospitals – Walter Reed
  • Hotels
    • Annapolis
    • Great Falls (MD side)
    • Hamilton
    • Madison
    • Quality Inn (Pentagon City)
    • Shoreham
    • Washington
  • House Office Building – Exterior
  • Houses
    • Dolly Madison
    • Dumbarton Oaks (Georgetown)
    • Girl Scouts “Little House” (1750 NY Ave.)
    • Key Mansion (Georgetown)
    • “Little White House” (21 Madison Pl., NW, Congressional Union Headquarters)
    • Mount Vernon
    • Octagon
    • Old Stone (Georgetown)
    • Petersen (House Where Lincoln Died)
    • Rhode Island Ave. (Scott Statue in Background; 1700 Block, North Side of R.I. Ave.?)
    • White House
      • Blue Room
      • Corridor
      • East Elevation
      • East Room
      • Green Room
      • Lobby
      • North Elevation

Box 3

  • Houses (cont.)
    • White House (cont.)
      • President’s Dining Room
      • President’s Office
      • President’s Telephone/Telegraph Bureau
      • Red Room
      • South Elevation
      • State Dining Room
      • Treaty Room
      • West Elevation
    • Wilson, Woodrow
  • Inaugurations
    • Harding, Warren G. (1921)
    • Lincoln, Abraham (1861)
    • McKinley, William (1901)
    • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (1933)
    • Roosevelt, Theodore (1905)
    • Taft, William Howard (1909)
    • Wilson, Woodrow (1913)
    • Wilson, Woodrow (1917)
    • Unknown, 1913 or 1917
  • Interior, Dept. of
  • Internal Revenue, Bureau of
  • Interstate Commerce Commission
  • Justice, Dept. of
  • Labor, Dept. of
  • Library of Congress
    • Annex (Adams Building)
    • Exterior
    • Interior
      • Exhibits
      • Misc.
      • Mosaics
        • Minerva
        • Achilles
        • Adonis
        • Bellerophon
        • Boy of Winandar
        • Cairn
        • Clio
        • Comus
        • Endymion
        • Ganymede
        • Hieroglyphics
        • History
        • Jason
        • Labor
        • Law
        • Lyric Poetry
        • Manuscript
        • Melpomene
        • Oral Tradition
        • Orpheus
        • Paris
        • Perseus
        • Pictograph
        • Printing Press
        • Prometheus
        • Religion
        • Seasons
      • Reading Room
      • Second Floor Central Hall
      • Stairway
  • Library – Public
    • Carnegie
    • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  • Mall
  • Markets – Center
  • Masonic Temple
  • Memorials
    • Barry, John
    • Columbus, Christopher
    • Ericsson, John
    • Farrugut, David G.
    • Founders (Daughters of the American Revolution)
    • Frederick the Great
    • Garfield, James A.
    • Gibbons, James Cardinal
    • Grant, Ulysses S.
    • Greene, Nathanael
    • Grief
    • Hahnemann, Dr. Samuel
    • Hamilton, Alexander
    • Hancock, John
    • Jackson, Andrew
    • Jefferson, Thomas
    • Joan of Arc
    • Jones, John Paul
    •     Kosciuszko Thaddeus
    • Lafayette, Marquis Gilbert de
    • Lincoln, Abraham
      • Exterior
      • Interior
      • Misc.
    • Logan, John A.
    • Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)
    • McClellan, George B.
    • McPherson, James B.
    • Payne, John Howard
    • Peace
    • Pike, Albert
    • Pulaski, Casimir
    • Rochambeau, Comte Jean de
    • Scott, Winfield
    • Sherman, William Tecumseh
    • Thomas, George H.
    • Washington, George (Monument)
      • Misc.
    • Webster, Daniel
  • National Geographic
  • Naval Observatory, U.S.
  • Navy Yard, U.S.
  • Neighborhoods
    • Chevy Chase
    • Cleveland Park
    • NE (Corcoran’s Hill)
  • Organizations
    • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
    • Famous Womens’ Club
    • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    • Masonic and Eastern Star Home
    • Methodist Building
    • National Housing Center
    • National Press Club
    • National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
    • YMCA
    • YWCA

Box 4

  • Pan-American Union
    • Exterior
    • Interior
  • Parades – Preparedness, June 14, 1916
  • Parks
    • Potomac
    • Rock Creek
  • Patent Office
  • Pension Building
    • Exterior
    • Interior
  • Pentagon
  • Post Office – City
    • 12th & Pa. Ave.
    • N. Capitol & Mass. Ave.
  • Post Office Dept. – 12th & Pa. Ave.
  • Potomac River
  • Presidents, U.S.
    • Johnson, Lyndon B.
    • Kennedy, John F.
    • Lincoln, Abraham
  • Public Health Service Building, U.S.
  • Restaurants
    • Also Café
    • Alex Stuart’s
    • Alfio’s la Trattoria
    • Allies’ Inn
    • Balalaika
    • Blackie’s House of Beef
    • Blue Mirror
    • Bonat French-American Café
    • Café Burgundy
    • Cannon’s
    • Casino Royal
    • Cathay
    • China Doll
    • Chinese Lantern
    • Colony Lounge
    • Crown
    • Duke Zeibert’s
    • Flagship
    • France’s
    • Golden Parrot
    • Good Earth
    • Gung Ho
    • Gusti’s
    • Hall’s
    • Hammel’s
    • Harvey’s
    • Herzog’s
    • Hogate’s
    • Hot Shoppes
    • Linda
    • Mayfair
    • Napoleon’s
    • Naylor’s
    • New Smorgasbord
    • O’Donnell’s
    • Old New Orleans
    • Olmstead
    • Pierre
    • Purple Tree Lounge
    • Reeves Coffe Shop
    • Restaurant 823
    • Restaurant Longchamps
    • Restaurant Madrillon
    • Rib Room
    • Roma
    • Ruby Foo’s Den
    • Schneider’s
    • Seafare Restaurant and Lounge
    • Scholl’s
    • Silver Fox
    • Surf Room Lounge
    • Syriana
    • Tai Tung
    • Tally Ho
    • Ted Lewis
    • Thompson’s Cafeteria
    • Tokyo Sukiyaki
    • Torino Italian Restaurant
    • Touchdown Club
    • Water Gate Inn
  • Schools – Private
    • Academy of Sacred Heart
    • Arlington Hall
    • Washington Cathedral School for Girls
  • Schools – Public
    • Dunbar
    • Eastern
    • Roosevelt
  • Scottish Rite Temple
  • Senate Office Building
    • Exterior
    • Interior
  • Series
    • Evening Star
      • Murals
    • George Washington Bicentennial, 1732-1932
    • Minnie E. Brooke (Photographer)
    • Roundabout Prints (Lesley Jackson, artist)
    • Washington Post
  • Smithsonian
    • Castle
    • History and Technology
    • National Museum  (New)
    • National Museum (Old)
    • Postcard Set with Envelope
  • Soldier’s Home
  • Treasury, Dept. of
  • State, War and Navy

Box 5

  • Stores
    • Garfinckels
    • Woodridge Rug & Carpet Co., Inc.
    • Woodward & Lothrop
      • Bethesda/Chevy Chase
      • North Building (D.C.)
      • Series #1 (D.C.)
      • Series #2 (D.C.)
      • Series #3 (D.C.)
      • Series #4 (D.C.)
      • Series #5 (D.C.)
  • Streets
    • 7th NW
    • 9th NW
    • 13th NW
    • Connecticut Avenue
    • Constitution Avenue
    • F NW
    • Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Supreme Court
  • Theaters
    • Arena Stage
    • Belasco
    • Ford’s
  • Treasury
    • Exterior
      • East Elevation
      • North Elevation
      • South Elevation
      • West Elevation
    • Interior
  • Union Station
    • Exterior
    • Interior
      • Concourse
      • Main Waiting Room
      • President’s Room
    • Misc.
  • Veterans Administration Building
  • Virginia
    • Alexandria
    • Great Falls
      • Potomac River
      • Structures
  • War Dept. Building
  • War & Navy Building
  • War Risk Insurance Building
  • Zoo
    • Animals
    • Structures

Box 6

  • Post Card Folders (circa 1920s-1940s)
    • Folger Shakespeare Library (1)
    • Franciscan Monastery (1)
    • Library of Congress (1)
    • National Historical Wax Museum – circa 1960s (1)
    • National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1)
    • Virginia – Arlington (4)
    • Washington, DC - generic tourist views (15)

Box 7

  • Oversize Postcards
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Compiled by Jerry A. McCoy, Librarian, March 2007

DC Public Library, Special Collections
DC Community Archives
901 G Street NW, Room 307
Washington, D.C.  20001
202.727.1213

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