New Volunteer Donates Antique Holiday Postcards

kathy headshotKathy McLaughlin is one of our newest volunteers. Besides excellent organizational, research, and writing skills, she brings to the Tuck Museum lots of good ideas on how to best tell the story of Hampton’s history. Kathy recently donated a collection of antique holiday postcards to the museum and gave a talk on them at the annual meeting of the Hampton Historical Society. Below is a transcription of her program with images of the postcards. (The photo of Kathy is from the Hampton Historical Society’s Victorian Tavernwalk on October 11, 2014. She donned the garb of a late 19th century ‘woman of means’ to portray Marilla Ricker, New Hampshire’s first woman lawyer).


I’d like to show you some postcards from my Aunt Sadie’s holiday postcard collection. She lived in Salisbury, Massachusetts and my family lived in Connecticut. Sadie gave her collection to me when I was in high school, when we were spending the summer vacation with my grandmother in Hampton Falls.

About 40 years later, in 2014, I moved to Hampton. I stopped in at the Tuck Museum to ask about becoming a volunteer. I’m interested women’s history, so Betty Moore, the Director of the museum, started me off indexing the Monday Club scrapbooks. The Monday Club was a women’s organization in Hampton that was in existence for 100 years.

Working in the museum made me think about the postcards, and other family items from the Hampton area, that the museum might like to have in its collection. Betty agreed that the holiday-themed postcards would make a nice addition to the existing postcard collection, and I donated them to the museum.

(1 & 2) The first two postcards are Valentine’s Day cards from the early 1900s. One was hand delivered, probably by the sender. The other was mailed through the postal service with a 1-cent stamp in 1914.


Postcards were used then to send short notes and messages the way we use email and texting today. You can see that these postcards are ornate – embossed, using gold. (3) The same is true of the postcard for Washington’s Birthday. Most postcards at this time were printed in Germany and were of higher quality, as compared with later postcards printed in England and the United States.


(4) The Halloween postcard was mailed in 1917 and postage had gone up to 2 cents.


(5 & 6) Next are two Thanksgiving postcards. On the second postcard you’ll notice the date 1620, which is when the Puritans landed. The first Thanksgiving was 1621. This postcard was made in Germany so it appears they were a bit unclear about US history.


(7) Next is a Christmas card, again embossed and using gold. This card was hand delivered in 1913.


Postcard collecting was a national addiction. In 1908 the post office counted 678 million postcards mailed. This number doesn’t include the postcards that were hand delivered. People collected postcards in shoeboxes, and my Aunt Sadie gave her collection to me in a shoebox.

(8) Next is a New Year postcard, this one from 1912, printed in Germany. It is unique because it was printed using silver ink. (9) And another New Year card.


(10) Here is a birthday postcard, from 1913


(11) And finally a Rally Day card to notify children about Sunday school.


(12) Here is the back of one card to show how easy it was to get mail delivered by the postal service. You see my Aunt’s name and that she lives in Salisbury. There’s no street address.


Other cards in Aunt Sadie’s holiday postcard collection are at the museum to be shared.