Échangions mutuellement nos photographs.

– traduit et composé par Mark Itibrout, AP French Copley High School student working on a translation project with French-language postcards from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection

[Front of postcard] An image of the Abbey of Sainte-Trinité in Caen, Normandy with a postmark from Caen
[Back of postcard] A message written in French, addressed to a woman in Denver, Colorado
La traduction:


I would be enchanted if you would like to mutually exchange our photographs. Receive, dear Madame, every friendship of Paul Brassard.

Les commentaires:

Sent to a town in Colorado, this postcard is from a Paul Brassard. He’s speaking to a Madame Leroy, offering to mutually “exchange photos.” It really calls to mind the question of what kind of photos are being exchanged, and who Paul Brassard is in relation to Madame Leroy. After all, the Madame and not Mademoiselle shows she is already married, and apparently not to him.  

[Front of postcard] An illustration of a woman resting in a chair with a French poem beneath it
La traduction:

You take three baths every week

This is normal, so to speak.

But if you take more every day

Your precious time goes down the drain.

Les commentaires:

There’s nothing written on the back of this postcard, but there is a poem on the front about the potential dangers of too many baths. Literally translated, it reads, “Every week you take three baths / Certainly this is sane / but taking them too often / is an inconvenience to you.”

Il est bête et chancelant.

– traduit et composé par Hannah Parker, AP French Copley High School student working on a translation project with French-language postcards from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection

[Front of postcard] An illustration of a young woman walking arm-in-arm with an old man with a French poem beneath it
La traduction:

In marrying him, you say to yourself;

Happy with him I would be,

He is stupid and tottering, 

I could take lovers

Les commentaires:

I thought that trying to figure out what the postcards said was a very fun challenge. It did take some time, but it was a very interesting way to explore history and even the French language. It was shocking to see how much the way people speak has changed over the years. It was difficult to decipher some of the handwriting and words that people wrote. Overall, this was a fun, challenging way to get more of history uncovered and to also learn in the process. I think that I would definitely do this again and try to discover more of what people were trying to say in the past.

Je n’ai plus entendu parler de vous.

– traduit et composé par Molly Bagatto, AP French Copley High School student working on a translation project with French-language postcards from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection

[Front of postcard] An image of a woman holding a bouquet of flowers and a man in a soldier’s uniform with a French caption that translates to “Courage dear soldier. My heart is not ungrateful for it is for you that it beats!”
[Back of postcard] A message written in French
La traduction:

Dear Sir,

I ask myself if you received my letter in response to yours. I have put inside an envelope and some paper for a response, and I don’t hear from you anymore. I hope you make up for this carelessness and write me back as soon as you can and tell me if you are in danger. I received news of Marie, she feels better if this could continue. I know it would be happy for you if hopefully the war ended this year. I hope to go and celebrate your return with affection.

-Your good-

Les commentaires:

Translating the postcard messages from the David P. Campbell collection was a great way to throw myself into more “real-world” French conversations. While translating, it was hard to figure out what some of the words were because of the aged handwriting. I do not use cursive that often so there was a difficulty with identifying certain letters. On top of that, naturally, humans make mistakes when writing, so I noticed a few grammatical errors while studying the letter. 

The letter that I translated was from a woman who was writing to a loved one who was out at war and had not responded to any of her letters. She seems to be upset and frustrated that her loved one never responds to her letters, which lead me to think that whoever she was writing to had died in the war. She closes the letter with “your good…” but the final word is illegible, so it was not clear how the writer was related to the person she was writing to.

Beaucoup de pommes tu as croquées.

– traduit et composé par Macy Emich, AP French Copley High School student working on a translation project with French-language postcards from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection

[Front of postcard] An illustration of a man standing in front of an old woman with bags of apples around her with a French poem beneath it
La traduction:

Though you are an old fairy 

A lot of apples you have munched 

Look in this transparency 

And call you only (recall who you are)

Les commentaires:

This was the first french postcard I had ever translated, and I would say it was a great one to start with. There was no handwriting to try to understand because it was typed, and the message was fairly easy to understand. I love the message this card has to offer. It talks about how even though whoever this is going to is growing old, they need to always recall who they are and who they were through life. They need to look deep to recall that. I also loved how they used “a lot of apples you have munched” to politely say they have grown old. So cute. I loved this experience as well. I never have received a postcard, mainly because they are not very popular now, but it was huge back then. It was how they communicated, and I find that very humbling. Today, it is easy to come in contact with people, but back then, it could have been a big hassle so it makes me thankful for what I have. However, it also makes me wish I lived back then because it seems wonderful. I must have an old heart even though I am so young.

En attendant cette heureuse époque

– traduit et composé par David Britton, AP French Copley High School student working on a translation project with French-language postcards from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection


[Front of postcard] An image of three people and a donkey in the desert with the caption “Famille de Nomades” which translates to “Nomad Family”
[Back of postcard] A message written in French, dated December 23, 1918
La traduction:


My son Victor told me that you would like to receive some pictures of Arab monuments or constructions. I am very happy to fulfill and send you 3 pictures, about which I will give you the details later if you wish.

I will confirm my shipments once on a regular but fairly frequent basis, at least for the moment. I will do {…} in about twenty days.

While waiting for this happy time, I beg you {…} that I have {fulfilled?} and send you the assurance of my best feelings. {Signature}

Les commentaires:

Il me semble que l’auteur et son correspondant sont des amateurs de l’architecture. Il n’y a pas assez d’information sur la carte postale pour spéculer beaucoup sur les vies des correspondants. Cela étant dit, il apparaît que les correspondants ne sont pas en couple parce que l’auteur écrit “mon fils” plutôt que “notre fils” ou juste “Victor.” La carte postale a été envoyée le 23 décembre 1918, donc il est possible que les vues dont l’auteur écrit soient des cadeaux de Noël. La Première Guerre mondiale était terminée un mois avant que ceci était envoyé, et puis la grippe de 1918 a commencé cette année-là, donc les correspondants ont dû faire face à beaucoup. L’écriture de l’auteur est assez lisible au début, mais vers la fin, la lisibilité diminue. Malgré cela, beaucoup est déchiffrable. Dans le coin supérieur gauche, il y trois lettres qui ressemblent à  π, G et B. Je ne sais pas la signification de ces lettres.

The Divine at Work

written by James Latham

Collecting the metadata for my set of post cards from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection has led me to notice something about these cards. Many of them feature religious or divine figures. The way in which divinity is present varies within the set of postcards.

In Dreams 151 the divine figure is a ghostly Jesus who seems to be looking over a dying elderly person. This interaction depicts a more somber and depressing relationship between the divine and the mortal world.


This theme seems to be carrying over to Dreams 152. This shows a ghostly figure being held onto by a woman. She seems to be holding on and refusing to let go of a deceased man.


Both postcards depict scenes of people having death show up and affect them.

These both are in stark contrast to Dreams 154. The divine figure in this postcard seems to be more associated with happier times. The woman in front of the piano seems to be playing happily and the angel is there to accompany her music with their own.


This happier scene is also present in Dreams 159. The praying girls are being watched over by the angels. There is no somber or dark tone to this, just children praying and communicating with a higher power.

Dreams_159 (front)
Dreams_159 (back)

The difference in the depiction of these figures is incredibly interesting because these are postcards. While depictions of religion seemed to be common in the 17th and 18th centuries, the death and loss of loved ones seem to feel out of place for cards that may have been sent to family or friends.