Copley Library’s Special Collections & Archive is working to digitize a cache of postcards from Europe, with large collections from Germany, Italy and France. Many of the postcards were mailed from Europe to a Miss May Clarke of St. Joseph, Missouri. Miss Clarke and her sister, Genevieve, traveled extensively throughout Europe, attending Sacred Heart Schools. May received a degree from the University of Munich, and Genevieve became the founding librarian of the San Diego College for Women. Copley Library is blessed to be the keepers of their wonderful postcard collection.
The curious thing about many of the earliest postcards, is the fact that the hand-written notes were on the image side of the postcards. Why would someone write all over a picture of beautiful Belle Époque Paris? Simply put, it was illegal to write anywhere else.
It wasn’t until March 1, 1907 that the US Post Office allowed the back of postcards to be divided into two areas. One area was designated for the message, and the other for the address and postage. Prior to that, no writing other than the recipient’s address was allowed on the back of a postcard. This allowed for the beautiful pictures of destinations near and far to fill the front of the postcard and not be blemished by the squashed scrawl of handwriting.