I am pleased to announce our latest online collection: the Bowden Postcard Collection Online!
The collection is named for Clyde Bowden, a retired librarian and Miami alumnus (’52), to whom we owe our incredible postcard collection. In 1986, the Special Collections library here at Miami was contacted by Bowden, who was a librarian in Cincinnati and formerly an employee under Walter Havighurst, our library’s namesake. He told the library of his friend and fellow Miami alumnus Charles Shields, who like Bowden was an avid postcard enthusiast but had tragically fallen ill. With Bowden’s help, Shields donated his collection to the library for future enthusiasts and researchers. Fifteen years later, in 2001, Bowden contacted the library again, this time offering to donate his own collection. Together, the two donations combine to a staggering 480,000 postcards, spanning the entire 20th century and the entire globe.
The ongoing digitization project is currently placing a special focus on Ohio-based cards – although all 50 states of America are already represented in the online collection. Each postcard online consists of two or more images, depicting the front and back of the card. Many cards are without printed or posted dates, and so with each postcard’s record is an estimated period of origin. These date ranges are reused with permission from the North Carolina Postcards Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
I have been greatly helped along the way by the work of Miami students Wendy Nguyen, Ariel Shirley, and Meghan Pratschler, who have been responsible for scanning the postcards and creating their accompanying records. Wendy is continuing to work on new postcards and the collection will be updated on a weekly basis with new items. It is my intent that the Bowden collection will someday prove to be a valuable source of data for a variety of digital humanities projects, drawing not only from the content of the cards themselves but the rich geographic and postal history they reveal.
I invite you all to explore the collection and hope that you enjoy this fascinating story of 20th century America.
Special Collections Librarian/Postcard Czar