Missouri State Archives
Mary Alice Hansen Postcard Collection
The postcard originated in 1869 in Europe as a cheap means of brief communications between friends and family and the trend quickly became popular in America. These initial cards were very plain until 1898, when the United States Post Office no longer had a monopoly on this form of letter writing. Once it relinquished some control over the format, publishers proliferated and small illustrations were widely used on the front of the cards.
In 1907, the U. S. Post Office permitted the use of the divided back card, allowing the message and mailing address to appear on one side, thereby making it possible for the entire front of the card to be used for imagery. Since then, millions of color postcards have been traded by collectors. These view cards documented people, places, and events all over America. Printing processes continued to improve and there has proved no end to card subject matter. Today, postcard collecting has its own name, “deltiology,” and is the nation's third most popular hobby outside of coin and stamp collecting.
Mary Alice Hansen was a Minnesota deltiologist who extensively traveled Missouri. Her nephew, David Quick, donated 209 color and black and white postcards his aunt collected to the Missouri State Archives. The images document Missouri buildings, industry, and culture from the early twentieth century and primarily include Springfield, St. Louis, and St. Charles, but the collection also contains many of Missouri's smaller communities. For instance one can view the 1912 high school graduation class in Wellsville, or a bustling downtown scene of Monett. Of particular interest are the photographic postcards covering the Branson area and the Missouri Ozarks. This collection will serve as the first of many small postcard collections to appear online so that patrons can view Missouri's historic landscape in what is still a very popular image format.