World Postcard Day

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Hello to all deltiologists – that’s postcard collectors! October 1 is World Postcard Day, a date chosen because, according to worldpostcardday.com, postcards were officially issued and recognized by a postal operator on October 1, 1869.

‘Post Cards’ had been used to communicate before 1869, however, as the website states, an Austrian professor of Economics, Dr. Emanuel Herrmann,  “wrote an article in the Neue Freie Presse pointing out that the time and effort involved in writing a letter was out of proportion to the size of the message sent. He suggested that a more practical and cheaper method should be implemented for shorter, more efficient communications.”

Dr. Herrmann must have put forth a convincing argument, as this was put into practice on October 1, 1869, resulting in the Correspondenz-Karte. It was light-brown, 8.5 x 12cm in size, and it featured space for the address on the front (obverse) and room for a short message on the back (reverse). After the Austrian government issued the first postal card, other countries soon followed – Canada in 1871 and the United States in 1873.

A013.4.464 – postcard to Thomas Henry from his brother, William. You can see the front is exclusively for the addressee while the back is the correspondence.

A few decades later, postcards began featuring images on one side, and by the 1890s, as photography’s popularity was continuing to grow, postcards began featuring photographs. At the turn of the 20th century, 2,700 cards were mailed by Canadians, but by 1913 this figure had jumped to 60 million.  Considering the population of Canada was a mere 7.2 million in 1911, this figure is all the more incredible.

Postcards were an economical way of staying in touch with friends and relatives before the era of the telephone.

The postcard collection at the Oshawa Museum is rather sizable and varied in terms of scope and subjects. We have several postcards commemorating events, such as New Years, Easter, Hallowe’en and Christmas. We have a number that feature rather Victorian/Edwardian depictions. We have a ‘Tall Tale’ postcard and a few that simply make me laugh.

Some are in the collection because of the pictures on the obverse, while others are treasured because of what it being communicated on the reverse.

We also have a few postcards made from leather! postcardhistory.net claims that postcards made from leather began around 1903 and that postcards dating before 1915 aren’t terribly uncommon.

The examples in our collection range in date from 1906 to 1908. One of the examples was destined for Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories – it is interesting to note that it is dated 1908, and Saskatchewan split from the Northwest Territories about 2 1/2 years prior.

Celebrate World Postcard Day by sending a message along to a friend! You can also tune into the Oshawa Museum’s Facebook Page for our Sunday FUNday LIVE on October 3 for a look at Postcards!

ArteFACTS – St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

Our archival collection features a number of postcards of a variety of topics and themes. Below are a sampling of some of the St. Patrick’s Day postcards in our collection, in honour of St. Patrick’s Day next week!

Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie! Thanksgiving Day Postcards in Oshawa Archives Collection

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Since 1957, the second Monday in October has been observed in Canada as Thanksgiving.  The history and lore of American Thanksgiving is well known, that it is a celebration of when the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together in the 1600s and shared a meal.  The origins and basis for Canadian Thanksgiving, in turn, isn’t as well known.  It is frequently tied to the story of Martin Frobisher who was one of many to search for the Northwest Passage.  He made three attempts, and on his third in 1578, there was a celebration on what is now known as Frobisher Island.  Another possible origin could be the harvest celebrations that occurred in New France in the 1600s.  The popularity of Thanksgiving increased in the late 1700s/early 1800s upon the arrival of United Empire Loyalists.  While ‘Thanksgiving’ was being celebrated, it was informal, being recognised by those celebrating and not as a publicly recognised holiday.

The first time Thanksgiving was formally recognized as a civic holiday after Confederation was on  April 5, 1872.  Prince Edward, later King Edward VII, recovered from a serious illness, and Thanksgiving was marked to celebrate this.

In Canada, Thanksgiving Day has been observed every year since 1879.  Initially, Thanksgiving was held on a Thursday in November, but in 1957, it was officially declared to be the second Monday in October.

 

The following are a selection of postcards from the Oshawa Community Archives’ collection.  From the staff and volunteers at the Oshawa Museum, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

File791 File618 File619 File782 File787 File790

‘A Bright Eastertide’ – Easter Postcards from the Archives

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

The celebration of Easter comprises more than just Easter Sunday.  It begins with Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter, and the week leading up to Easter Sunday is known as Holy Week, during which Holy Thursday and Good Friday fall.  The 50 day period after Easter Sunday is known as Eastertide.  Today, Easter is secularly known as a celebration involving bunnies, eggs, baskets, and chocolate, but its roots are in Catholicism, and it is the most important observation for the Catholic Church, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

By the end of the 19th century, sending Easter postcards to relatives and friends became a tradition; because of the deep religious roots of this holiday, the popularity of sending cards for Easter took longer to catch on than it did for other holidays, such as Christmas.  Popular iconography on the cards included eggs, flowers, springtime images, and, of course, images with religious undertones.  Interestingly, during the First World War, the themes displayed on the cards changed for the times, with images of soldiers, and even the Easter Bunny became militarized.

 

What follows are Easter Postcards from the collection of the Oshawa Community Archives:File884 copy File881 copy File895 copy File904 copy File911 copy

 

On behalf of the Oshawa Community Museum and the Oshawa Historical Society, I wish you a very happy Easter.

Many thanks to our Durham College Library and Information Technology Students for their initial research into this collection.