The Lehigh Libraries Special Collections is pleased to announce the new fall exhibit “No Postage Necessary: Views of the Postcard World.” This Special Collections exhibit contains a panorama of vintage postcards representing locales near and far, as well as a selection of photo-postcards on loan from Professor Scott Paul Gordon. Much like today’s social media, postcards offer a finite amount of space for the writer to share their thoughts, travelogs, description, or provide reassurance to recipients that the sender is “having a wonderful time.” Postcards provide travelers with a means of communication, while providing visual evidence of their adventures abroad - or at home.
Postcards are ephemeral treasures that contain vast evidence and visual record for social, economical, and political history. Advances in photography, printing technologies, shipping, delivery, and mailing industries have had a direct impact on the usage and distribution of postcards. Mailed or not, each postcard carries clues about the era and place that was captured and used. Today, with so many local, national, and international “postcard societies,” postcards represent aesthetic enjoyment, artistic adventure, and serious collecting passion. Postcards displayed in the exhibit date from the earliest days of this format in the 1890s through the beginning of the 21st century, and include original photographs, lithographs, and collotypes.
While the Lehigh Libraries hasn’t collected postcards systematically beyond those depicting campus and the surrounding community, postcards presenting views of the world are also exhibited. These originate from a number of archival collections, including the South Bethlehem Historical Society, Cramer Family Collection, David Guise Papers, Bridge Postcards and Chris Eline Postcard Collection. Postcards provide historical evidence to historic preservationists and to environmental scientists, among other fields of study.
In addition, included in the exhibit are postcards loaned by Professor of English Scott Paul Gordon, whose collection focuses on the work of D.C.M., a Moravian minister. Between 1907 and 1909, during a health-related “retirement” in Nazareth, PA, the Moravian minister D. Cornelius Meinert discovered a love of photography. He photographed many buildings, streets, and bridges in Nazareth and Bethlehem. One exhibit case in the Linderman Library is dedicated to a selection from Meinert’s photography: images of Lehigh University, of Bethlehem, and of the Lehigh River.
This exhibit of historic images of sites and sights spanning over a century, begins in the Linderman Grand Reading Room and continues in the Cafe Gallery and Bayer Galleria. Examples from the collections are also on display in E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library, 5th floor. Please see the libraries’ website for information regarding hours and access policies.
The exhibit will be on display from August 22 through December 22, 2022 during regular building hours. Please stay tuned for details about an upcoming Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries program on postcards on November 17. For more information, please contact Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-758-4506.