Digital Commonwealth

Boston Postcard Collection

Boston Public Library

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Souvenir picture postcards made their American debut at Chicago’s 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. These new cards appealed immediately to a budget-conscious public as inexpensive keepsakes and an economical means of communication; by the early 1900s, the United States was in the throes of a postcard craze. In 1908 alone, Americans mailed more than 677 million cards. Although the “Golden Age” of postcards ended with World War I, postcard collecting (deltiology) is still one of the most popular collectible hobbies in the world, surpassed only by coin and stamp collecting.

Generous gifts from the public have built Boston Public Library’s postcard collection to total nearly 165,000 cards. Housed in the Print Department, the library’s postcard collection is particularly strong in Boston-area subjects including architecture, businesses, views, and whimsical salutations. This collection of postcards depicts some of our city’s most famous places and spaces in bygone days.

Locations in this Collection: