The David P. Campbell Postcard Collection at the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology contains around 250,000 cards and represents more than worldwide vacation spots. The collection also includes images ranging from cartoons to propaganda and from fashion to news events.
This spring, eleven students will make a select group of these postcards more accessible through an Unclass offered through the EXL Center and the English Department at the University of Akron. UnClasses are hands-on in structure and stress student-led experiential learning.
Throughout this term, this blog will offer updates on our projects, which are devoted to themes that Dr. Campbell himself used to organize the collection. The collection consists of scores of three-ring binders, each containing plastic sleeves full of postcards.
Five groups of students will be uploading their scanned and catalogued collections and writing about what they have accomplished, the topics they are in the process of exploring, and possible future research.
Here are the projects that are in progress:
Veronica Bagley and Justin Veda, “Institutions, Asylums, etc.”
The binder we are working with contains 337 postcards. For our research project, we want to see when names for institutions featured on the postcards, such as “lunatic asylum” or “deaf and dumb institution” were used, and when names such as “treatment center” or “psychiatric hospital” started being used instead. We are also looking into how the messages on the cards relate to the image, if at all.
Anthony Pankuch and Jess Wilson, “Feminists Leap Year Vol. 2.”
Our collection includes a large variety of images related to ideas regarding feminism and opposing movements. The main objective of our project is to contribute to a repository that will be valuable to researchers of gender, propaganda, and social movements. We will be focusing on imagery depicting women as activists, the suffragette movement, domesticity, and gender roles throughout American and world history.
Ricky Marko, Zoe Orcutt, and Amanda Leach, “Hold to Light Cards”
These cards all reveal a secret image when held up to a light source. Our goal is to find a suitable scanning technique to illuminate these secret messages, so they may be visible on the digitized image. We will also be researching the history behind the development of these copper window and hold-to-light postcards.
Stacy Young and Emma Grosjean, “M. Story Bates”
This binder contains postcards from the early 1900s. The collection includes mail correspondences between M. Story Bates and J. Ralph Duckworth. These cards include encrypted codes on them and our research goals include digitizing and transcribing the cards, researching who M. Story Bates and J. Ralph Duckworth are, and attempting to crack the encrypted codes.
Rosemary Herbert and Randall Slonaker, “Lovers Portrait Vol. 1”
We will analyze the artwork on the front of cards, studying subjects such as courtship and romance, gender roles, and class issues, as well as militarism and patriotism. We will also compare any disparities between messages on the rear of the cards and the images on the card fronts.
Watch this space to see how the projects develop!
The David P. Campbell Postcard Collection is a key collection of the CCHP’s Institute for Human Science and Culture.