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Base ball at Sauk Centre, Minn., July Fourth.
Base ball at Sauk Centre, Minn., July Fourth. Photo by W.O. Olson, 1908.

Taking the Long View (in Miniature)

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The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.

What tends to be 3.5 inches tall and 10 inches long?  Postcards created in a panoramic view format.

Car on beach with airplane overhead, probably in Daytona, Florida
Car on beach with airplane overhead,  in Seabreeze (Daytona Beach), Florida. Photograph published by H. Marshall Gardiner, 1911.

More than 400 oversize postcards are “new for you” in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. The Library received most of the postcards as copyright deposits in 1905-1909. Thirty-nine different states are represented. Of special interest are the series of cards showing single towns, including Aberdeen, SD; Millville, NJ;  and Beloit, Wisconsin. You’ll also find such dramatic subjects as the devastating results of a fire in Chelsea, MA, and an airplane flying over cars driving along a beach. (Do you think the plane was really in that position, or added later through darkroom magic?)

When we first inventoried the Library’s main postcard file back in 2008, these cards stood out as deserving extra attention; more than half are original photographic prints, called “real photo” postcards. It took a few years to gather the resources necessary for scanning and cataloging. Then, the Library’s Duplication Services carefully captured the digital images, and a talented team in the Prints & Photographs Division created the catalog records, finishing up last week.

Several team members chose fascinating cards to introduce you to this new collection. Shaunette Payne found delight in a card that reminds her of the classic movie The Wizard of Oz!

Birds eye view of Orchard, Nebr.
Birds eye view of Orchard, Nebr. Photo by J.A. Newberry, 1910.

Bonnie Dziedzic chose a baseball game at Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on July Fourth. She wrote: “The photo shows a fairgrounds race track on the prairie with a covered grandstand and school. The teams have taken to the field in the center of the track with the spectators overflowing the bleachers. Buggies of spectators line the outside fence of the track and the infield. I imagine them enjoying their picnics as they watch the holiday activities and wait for fireworks. Sauk Centre is the birthplace of Sinclair Lewis, and the town inspired Gopher Prairie in his 1920 novel Main Street. Maybe Lewis was at this game!”

Base ball at Sauk Centre, Minn., July Fourth.
Base ball at Sauk Centre, Minn., July Fourth. Photo by W.O. Olson, 1908.

Mary Christ enjoyed cataloging a set of postcards from New York State, and came across one miniature panorama that wasn’t used as a postcard. In her own words: “A print showing New York City in 1850 is a treat for any history nerd or native New Yorker. (I happen to be both.) On the card, New York is still written with a hyphen as New-York; Staten Island has a quarantine station; and Ellis Island has yet to serve its most famous purpose. The familiar names of Brooklyn, Hoboken, and Long Island Sound brought a smile to my face, though, I must confess it took me a moment to identify  “Bedlow’s Island.” A quick Google search informed me that the island was the 17th century home of one “Issack Bedloo” and the 19th century location of a military fort.  It was then that I realized–Bedloe’s Island is now Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty.”

City of New-York, Brooklyn, Jersey City & Quarantine Station on Staten Island
City of New-York, Brooklyn, Jersey City & Quarantine Station on Staten Island. Print, publication date unknown.

Please let us know which of the many “new” postcards intrigue you!

Learn More

  • Look at all the panoramic and oversize postcards in LOT 14058.
  • View the Panoramic Photograph Collection: more than four thousand larger format panoramic images measuring between twenty-eight inches and six feet in length.
  • Read about how photographers made the panoramic postcards using a special camera and the history of photographic postcards in the book: Bogdan, Robert, and Todd Weseloh. Real Photo Postcard Guide: The People’s Photography. N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 2006, p. 51-52, [view catalog record for this book].
  • See how the larger format panoramic photographs are made.

Comments (4)

  1. Thank you for highlighting these terrific images. Do you know if most or all of these images are in the public domain?

    • We’re glad you’re enjoying the images! Most, but not all, of the postcards and prints in this group were published or copyrighted before 1923, so any copyright would have expired. To find these, what you’re looking for in each description is the “Rights Advisory” that says “No known restrictions on publication” (you can include “No known restrictions on publication” in a search to focus on only those descriptions that include the phrase). We explain what we mean by “No known restrictions on publication,” as well as providing tips about the duration of copyright, how to interpret our descriptions, and resources that help with analyzing rights in our online aid: “Copyright and Other Restrictions That Apply to Publication/Distribution of Images:
      Assessing the Risk of Using a P&P Image” (

  2. SPEAKING Of postcards, when i, Jeff Castillo, was a WORK-STUDY (federal GOVERNMENT pays 3/4 of your wage rate{up to 1&1/2 minimum wage and&AND the UNIVERSITY pays 1/4 of your WAGE) aide at Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, ILLINOIS, u.s.a., into THE anthropology MUSeum , i saw this AGE old postCARD, lith-o-graphed with a PHOTOGRAPH of two SHRUNKEN Heads, from a South American [indigenous population] indian TRIBE. I’m not sure if i’d believe in all those RUDE “tarsan THE ape MAN” stories about the HeAtEd cUlTuRaL WaYs of the NATURALLY evoked PEOples of the new world, had i not seen it with my own ARTISTIC eyeballs. STANLEY AND LIVINGSTON, I PRESUME1

  3. a fascinating look back into US history

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