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Guide to the John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection
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Collection Details
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  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Information:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection
    Dates: 1880-2007
    Identification: MS-0008
    Creator: Adams Postcard Collection, 1892-2007
    Physical Description: 282.00 boxes
    Language of Materials: English French
    Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
    5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
    San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
    URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
    Email: scref@rohan.sdsu.edu
    Phone: 619-594-6791

    Biographical Information:

    Postcards began circulation as a convenient means of quick and often colorful communication in the mid-to-late 19th century. Both American and European publishers took advantages of the postcard craze of the early 20th Century as millions of postcards of a variety of subjects and topics were produced, circulated, and collected. The popularity of postcard collecting diminished during World War I and postcards have never achieved quite the popularity they initially held, but postcards are still widely produced, circulated, and collected worldwide for various reasons and occasions.

    Access Terms

    This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Genre/Form of Material:


    Geographic Name:

    Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula) -- Pictorial works
    California -- Pictorial works
    Mexican-American Border Region -- Pictorial works
    San Diego (Calif.) -- Pictorial works
    San Diego County (Calif.) -- Pictorial works
    Tijuana (Baja California, Mexico) -- Pictorial works
    United States -- Pictorial works

    Personal Name:

    Adams, Jane Ford -- Art collections
    Adams, John R., 1900-1994 -- Art collections

    Topical Term:

    Cities and towns -- United States -- Pictorial works
    Political postcards -- Private collections -- California -- San Diego
    Political postcards -- Specimens
    Postcards -- Private collections -- California -- San Diego
    Postcards -- Specimens

    Administrative Information

    Custodial History:

    The bulk of the collection consists of a gift from John R. and Jane Adams in 1989, and also includes donations from Russell Raitt and Carol Wilson, as well as postcards previously in the Norland Collection. Postcard donations have also been accepted from numerous donors and patrons.


    1998, 1993, 2005

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    This collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation:

    Identification of item, folder title, box number, John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    I. San Diego (SD)
    II. California (CA)
    III. US Views (USV)
    IV. Publisher (PB)
    V. Foreign Views (FV)
    VI. Topical (TOP)
    VII. Card Types  (CT)
    VIII. Russell Raitt Donation (RR)
    IX. Carol Wilson Donation (CW)
    X. Souvenir Albums (SA)
    XI. Research Materials (RM)
    XII. Albums (ALB)
    XIII. Oversized Materials (OV)

    Scope and Contents

    The John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection consists of over 100 years of history and communication through postcards. The postcards are diverse in size, format, and subject. The collection contains more than 4,500 postcards of San Diego County, and 8,500 postcards representing parts of the state of California and the development of California. Individual states in the U.S. as well as other countries of the world also have categories in the collection. Postcards are also arranged by publisher, type, and topic. Also included with the collection are research materials related to postcard collections and collecting, albums of postcards, and a balsawood postcard file box. The collection has been broken down into distinct categories, both topically and geographically. Each box is identified with its category abbreviation and box number.
    In the Topical Series, there are 10 subseries. Subseries I: Greetings encompasses general holiday, birthday, romantic, religious, and miscellaneous sentiments, as well as the popular European "Gruss Aus" and its American descendant, the "Greetings From" type of card. Subseries 2: Art includes reproduced paintings, drawings, sculptures, museum pieces, and other art. Subseries 3: Comics includes comic postcards (usually drawn characters), including comic art involving early 20th century stereotypes of Germans, African-Americans, and other minority groups. Subseries 4: Places includes postcards from specific places such as monuments, but also many postcards from miscellaneous places around the world intended to depict foreign costumes and ways of life. Subseries 5: People includes famous people and performers, as well as general depictions. Subseries 6: Events includes various world expositions, wars, and famous disasters. Subseries 7: Nature includes postcards of various animals and plants. Subseries 8: Politics includes promotional postcards for candidates in presidential and other elections, as well as promotional material for various causes, such as temperance and suffrage. Subseries 9: Sports includes depictions of a variety of international sports. Subseries 10: Transportation depicts varied forms of transportation, with a significant strength in military transportation.