By Rosemary Herbert
What fun — and how helpful — it was for our Postcard Unclass to chat by phone with Marsha Juozaitis, who had assisted David P. Campbell in the monumental task of organizing and inserting into binders his huge collection of postcards. Her generous sharing of enthusiasm, facts, and trends gleaned from long acquaintance with the collection were invaluable to us.
Among the facts that were new to us was the information that there was a time when postage was free to soldiers writing home to their loved ones. This accounts for the lack of stamps we find on some of our cards. Marsha also told us that many postcards were designed by people in advertising, as sideline that brought them additional income. She also confirmed out suspicion that prices penciled on many cards are the marks of some sellers or of David Campbell himself.
Marsha also addressed trends that we are also seeing in the collection, such as the overall sense that most messages are “bland,” no matter what the image is on the cards carrying those messages. Like us, she sees eyebrow-raising elements in vintage postcards manufactured long before political correctness was in the common consciousness, particularly in the names of institutions that some cards depict. “‘Feeble Minded’! How about that one?” Marsha exclaimed, referring to the kind of wording in the names of some institutions.
There was much to learn and enjoy about our interaction with Marsha, but perhaps most special are comments about things that the postcards cannot tell us, such as the fact that David Campbell enjoyed acquiring postcards from “cat-in-the-window” places Marsha called “dusty, dirty” antiques and junk shops. We learned that he collected postcards during his world travels as well as here in the United States and that he was able acquire many quite inexpensively in places such as Latvia.
She also told us that while she “saw categories” for organizing the collection, it is important to remember that there is tremendous crossover in the collection as a whole. With unbridled enthusiasm, she urged us to cross reference “to learn more.”
The David P. Campbell Postcard Collection, searchable at postcard.uakron.edu, is a key collection of the CCHP’s Institute for Human Science and Culture. This blog series chronicles student efforts to 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.