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Philadelphia & Environs :
An Architectural History through Postcards



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Philadelphia & Environs
Textiles and Victorian Trade Card
Over the years the Special Collections Department of the Gutman Library has acquired a number of Philadelphia postcards.  Many of these cards showed images of buildings or street scenes in Philadelphia. These cards span a time period from the turn of the century to the 1980's.  After showing some of these cards to faculty, it was decided that this group of cards could be valuable as a teaching aid to students in the architectural and other design programs. At this point the cards were organized into a collection and areas of interest not include were identified for future acquisition. Fortunately with Ebay, large number of cards are constantly being made available at generally reasonable prices. So it is possible to add to the collection at a slow but steady pace. With an organized collection available and the need to make it accessible to the university community, a grant proposal was made to LSTA which was successful. This grant was used to pay students to scan the postcards and supply the descriptive data for each card.

Besides making the image of the postcard available, designing the structure of the card description was necessary. In determining this organization it was decided that publishing information and sender information should be included. Many of the postcard images show the main image but they do not include an image of the reverse side. This makes it impossible to determine the publisher/printer of the image and hinders in determining the date of the card.  Also it was decided that on used postal cards, the comments by the sender and the address of the recipient could hold future scholarly interest. Because of this interest in documenting different publishers, cards have been included in the collection that have the same front image but have different publishers. Many locations have multiple cards included because of image variations and publishing differences.