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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

That’s Distinctive!: Thanksgiving postcards

Check the blog each Friday for a new “That’s Distinctive!” post. I created the series because I genuinely believe there is something in our collections for everyone, whether you’re writing a paper or just want to have a look. “That’s Distinctive!” will provide a more lighthearted glimpse into the diverse and unique materials at Spencer – including items that many people may not realize the library holds. If you have suggested topics for a future item feature or questions about the collections, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Though the library is closed for the holiday, That’s Distinctive! must go on! In honor of Thanksgiving holiday, this week I am sharing some Thanksgiving postcards from the Herd Family Papers. With over 37 boxes, 47 volumes, seven oversize boxes, and two folders, the collection – which spans 1817-2013 – houses a wide array of materials. With much of the collection being correspondence, it is appropriate that the items shared today are postcards celebrating Thanksgiving. Two postcards are undated, and the others are from 1908 and 1909.

You’ll notice on the last postcard that the address simply lists the town and state. According to the U.S. Global Mail website, “before addresses were used in the United States, mail would be delivered to prominent buildings in major towns and cities throughout the colonies (and later states) – usually City Hall, the library, or something similar. … Over time, though, the USPS looked for ways to create more and more efficiency. That’s when they created a new addressing system (and later ZIP Codes), totally overhauling the way that mail was sent throughout the country and laying down the foundation for the addressing system we still use today.”

Color illustration of a turkey flanked on each side by wheat, a plow, and a cornucopia of autumnal produce. The text "Thanksgiving Greetings" is at the top.
Color illustration of three turkeys wearing red and white striped top hats. Two are carrying American flags. The text "Thanksgiving Greetings" is in the lower left corner.
Two undated Thanksgiving postcards. Herd Family Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1374. Click images to enlarge.
Color illustration of a turkey looking at a calendar of November; most days are crossed out in red. The turkey is wearing a hat and carrying a suitcase and umbrella. The text "Thanksgiving Day" is at the top.
A Thanksgiving postcard from 1909. Herd Family Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1374. Click image to enlarge.
Color illustration of a turkey looking at a boy carrying a rifle. The text "Thanksgiving Greetings" is at the top.
This image has handwritten text.
The front and back of a 1908 Thanksgiving postcard. The transcription is below. Herd Family Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1374. Click images to enlarge.

My Dear Horace:-

I sure wish I could be with you for next Thurs. Wonder if you will miss me. Now eat lots of Turkey for me, and have a good time. Tonight we have a fudge party you like that so much. This is sure a dandy day. I just got home from school.

With Love. Lillian

So, whether you’re having a fudge party, eating lots of turkey and ham, or getting takeout from your favorite restaurant, we hope you have a very happy holiday!

Tiffany McIntosh
Public Services

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