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UD Postcard Collection on Collectors Weekly Hall of Fame

    The Collectors Weekly, a website for collectors and antique enthusiasts [www.collectorsweekly.com], has announced that the electronic Postcard Collection of the University of Delaware Library has been selected to its Hall of Fame [www.collectorsweekly.com/hall-of-fame/view/u-delaware-postcard-collection].  The Collectors Weekly highlights websites with deep reference content reflecting unique collections and which demonstrate “a passion for collecting.”  The University of Delaware Library Postcard Collection is considered one of the “best on the web,” according to The Collectors Weekly.

    The University of Delaware Library Postcard Collection [fletcher.lib.udel.edu/collections/dpc/index.htm] is comprised of over two thousand postcards of scenes of Delaware and nearby areas. The postcards in the collection date mainly from the end of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, although there are also postcards from throughout the later part of the twentieth century.  Most of the postcards in the collection were commercially produced and represent well-known Delaware buildings, monuments, and views, such as the State Capitol in Dover, Wilmington’s downtown buildings and historic structures, and Rehoboth’s beaches and boardwalks. However, a number of the cards document small town life in Delaware including street scenes and domestic buildings. In addition to documenting the built landscape of Delaware as it existed during the last hundred years, some provide images of buildings that no longer exist and some of these images may not exist in any other format.

    Along with buildings, the collection also represents aspects of social life in Delaware during the past century. Some of the cards were produced privately and are in fact photographs that have been printed onto postcard paper. These were created by individuals for the consumption of their own small circle of family and friends and were not mass-produced or sold in retail stores. These postcards document many aspects of society including firemen at work, literary societies, and sports teams.

    Although most of the cards depict sights in Delaware, the collection also contains images of places outside the State, most notably Longwood Gardens in nearby Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

    Postcards are not only visual records. Many of the postcards were in fact mailed and so contain written messages, stamps, and postmarks. The backs of the postcards were also printed with information about the publisher, captions describing the image, and ornament. The printed text, along with the stamp and postmark, can help to date and place the manufacture and use of the postcards. Alternatively, the captions and written messages contain a wealth of information that can be used to learn about the postcard’s image or to illuminate the attitudes and interests of the past.

    In addition to the Postcard Collection of the University of Delaware Library, the University of Delaware Library Digital Collections are growing in quantity.  The Library Digital Collections [fletcher.lib.udel.edu/] provide free and open access nationally and internationally to digital versions of selected materials held by the University of Delaware Library.


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