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Digital Collections : Newton Owen Postcard Collection

Newton Owen Postcard Collection

About the Collection

The Newton Owen Postcard Collection represents nearly a century in the life and travels of an extended Kentucky family. The earliest cards date to the late 19th century, and while the bulk of the collection dates to the period 1900-1940, there are postcards dating to the 1980s as well. It consists of 781 cards, including travel postcards and greeting cards of many different kinds.

The Newton Owen Postcard Collection consists of postcards collected by the Bayne, Foell, and Owen families. The Bayne family, consisting of Samuel and Fannie Bayne and their children, Josephine (born 1899), Samuel Junior (born 1901), and Sarah (born 1903). None of the Bayne children had any children of their own, and the collection was left to their cousin, Newton Owen. Owen also received cards from other, farther-flung branches of the family, including the Foells. Lillie Foell's correspondence to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Foell, is particularly well documented.

Approximately half of the 781 cards in this collection are travel postcards with scenes from various locations across the United States and Europe. Kentucky -- particularly the city of Louisville -- and Indiana are well represented, comprising more than a quarter of the U.S. travel cards. The states of the American South were popular destinations, as well: nearly 35% of the U.S. travel cards are from southern states, with 57 cards from Florida alone.

The remaining cards are greeting cards, including holiday cards -- particularly Easter, Christmas, and Valentine's Day. Other holidays, such as Thanksgiving, New Year's and St. Patrick's Day, are covered to a lesser extent. The bulk of the greeting and holiday cards were received by members of the Bayne family.

The cards reveal much about the life lived by this extended family. Cards come from various infirmaries and health spas, from West Baden in Indiana and Exelsior Springs, Missouri, to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One family member, Lillie Foell, was a regular correspondent with her parents, sending cards and souvenir folders from her regular and extensive travels in the 1920s and 1930s.

In addition, the greeting cards reveal the sensibilities and senses of humor of a family of Kentuckians in the early 20th century, particularly as those notions were addressed to children. Anthropomorphic animals are common at Eastertime, in particular; chickens pull rabbits in carriages; chickens cook eggs on stoves; hens and chicks wear Easter dresses, etc. There are few images of the Crucifixion or Resurrection, although there are wishes for a "holy" Easter. Similarly, Santa Claus was popular at Christmas; the Holy Family, less so.

Another sensibility that must be addressed when presenting these images is the treatment of people of color and certain other groups, particularly the Dutch. African Americans and Dutch people are depicted in stereotyped ways -- as caricatures -- in a manner that may be offensive to many viewers. The University of Louisville and the University Archives & Records Center does not endorse the content of, or expression carried by, these images. However, these images do present the attitudes and assumptions of the period in which they were produced. The cultural record would be incomplete -- and we would not be honest with ourselves and our past -- if these images were omitted.

Conditions of Use

The University of Louisville welcomes fair use of this website and its contents. If you wish to publish, broadcast, or publicly display these materials, please notify Archives and Special Collections. In addition, it is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions, which may include paying fees for commercial use. For further information about permissions, use, and ordering reproductions, see Order Reproductions, or contact Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.

To cite an image from this collection, please use the format:

[Item title], Newton Owen Postcard Collection, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, Louisville, Kentucky.

To cite the digital version, add its Reference URL (found by following the link in the header above the digital file).


The Newton Owen Postcard Collection was donated to the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center in 2006. The collection was processed by Thomas L. Owen, Archivist for Local History and son of the collector.

The images were selected (based on copyright status) and scanned by Caroline Daniels in 2006-2007. Images were typically scanned on a Epson Expression 1680 flatbed scanner as a 600 dpi TIFF image in 24-bit RGB color. Daniels converted the images to JPEGs of "maximum" quality and resized them to 600 pixels in the longest dimension using PhotoShop versions 7 and CS2. The images were then uploaded into CONTENTdm (versions 4.1 and 4.2).

Caroline Daniels created metadata records based on information on the postcards themselves on additional research using secondary sources. She also created the collection description provided on this Website. The metadata was created in accordance with the University of Louisville Digital Initiatives data dictionary (PDF). Most titles were printed on the postcards; those supplied by Daniels are noted in the Description field.

Terri L. Holtze designed the HTML pages, assisted by Qing Cao, who designed the PHP elements. Eric Lair and Weiling Liu provided support for the software and server.

Dwayne K. Buttler, J.D., provided copyright advice.

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