Barr's Post Card News

Collector of the Month: October 1999

[Barr's Post Card News]

[Unfortunately, Barr's Post Card News doesn't archive their back issues, and the original link to the article eventually disappeared. But this is the text of the article, and the pictures displayed.]


My postcard collection started in a little antique store on Cape Cod in 1985. I was browsing through paper items on a table when I pulled out a postcard of a familiar scene: a waterfall on the campus of my dear alma mater, Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, Massachusetts). I turned it over; it had been postally used in 1909, addressed to a woman named Carrie, and was inscribed: "I visited Mt. Holyoke College last Friday and had a fine time. There are about 700 girls up there. Yours sincerely Julia." I was instantly enchanted. What had Julia done while she was at Mount Holyoke? Who had she visited? Where did she stay? Who was Carrie? I xeroxed the card in a newsletter I put together for Mount Holyoke alumnae the next year, and enjoyed the positive response.

My collection of one card did not increase until 1991, when my travels took me to the other side of the country and I was browsing through the Rose Bowl flea market in the Los Angeles area. A postcard dealer was set up there, and he had 28 Mount Holyoke postcards, all different from my one card. I bought them all, and picked up a flyer about an upcoming postcard show. At that show, I found still more Mount Holyoke postcards, and an issue of Barr's. That was the key; now I had a list of dealers willing to send me cards on approval, and I had a list of postcard shows that could keep me busy almost every weekend.

Over the next few years, my postcard collection, and my knowledge of postcards, grew quickly. By 1994, I had over 300 postcards in my collection, and a desire to meet other collectors. I wrote a letter to the quarterly magazine our alumnae association publishes, mentioned my collection, and encouraged other collectors to contact me. I received only one response, but it was from a woman who was an experienced collector and who had an extensive collection of postcards and stereoviews of Mount Holyoke. We met the following year at reunion, and she brought her collection with her. We enjoyed several hours of looking at all the images, talking about various publishers and views, and reminiscing about our own college days.

In 1996, I showed my collection to another college friend who was visiting me at my house. She suggested putting together a website so that many alumnae could look at the images in my collection, and offered to help me get started. We spent 36 hours straight during Christmas vacation holed up in a computer lab in her workplace, scanning the postcards front and back and typing in the contents. That first draft of my website contained about 125 of my favorite postcards, and I was terribly proud of it.

I spent many Saturdays after that at my friend's workplace, scanning while she worked, and then typing in the contents at home and linking everything together into my website. It took several years to get the whole collection online. In the meantime, I was spending all this time reading and rereading my postcards, and getting more and more curious about the women who wrote and received them. Many of them had big clues to help identify the author: a dorm she lived in, her initials, the year she lived there, etc. So I started keeping a list of the most promising clues, and then planned a trip to the Mount Holyoke Archives to see if I could identify my ladies.

And what a treasure trove of information the Mount Holyoke Archives proved to be! In 1937, the Alumnae Association had put out a biographical directory in honor of the 100th year of the College that contained detailed information about each alumna. That book was priceless to me. They also had the dorm directories for each year since 1903, so if I knew from the contents of a postcard that an Edna lived in Safford in 1905-1906, for instance, I could find out who she was, and then look her up in the biographical directory and find out what advanced degrees she had pursued, what jobs she had held, when or if she had married, and the names of her children. I traveled to the Archives every few months to spend the day doing research on my ladies and scanning their portraits from their yearbooks so that I could attach their biographical information and their pictures to the website with the postcards they had sent.

My knowledge of the World Wide Web was also growing. I was taking classes so that I could do some more intricate projects. I set up a map of the campus on my website so that if a user clicked on the image of a building on the map, a page with historical information and postcard images of that building would be displayed. I registered the website with search engines, so that people searching for Mount Holyoke information, or postcard collections, could find my website. I added a guestbook so that visitors could leave comments. And I turned eight of the postcards into electronic postcards that users could send to their friends online.

In 1998, my website won two awards. It won third place in the Postcards: Best Graphics category by Internet Collectible Awards, and it won Best Personal Site for Information and Content in the 1998 CLICK awards by Western Massachusetts Web Guide. Publicity about the CLICK award resulted in an article in the College Street Journal, a weekly newspaper distributed in South Hadley, and Vista, a publication sent to alumnae.

[Llamarada Staff 1902]

All this web programming does not keep me from my collecting! In the last few years, my collection has grown to include books, ephemera, photos, letters, and scrapbooks. I now have well over 1000 postcards in my collection, I go to almost every postcard show in New England, and I buy from dealers on approval almost every month. I am still turning up new images on a regular basis, and many cards that are part of numbered series are still out there for me to discover. In the last few months, I had two postcards made. One is a postcard of my website's front page, so that I can use it for advertising or distributing to dealers or other collectors. The other is the first of a series of cards I hope to create from vintage Mount Holyoke photographs. It is a group photo of the 10 women who were on the yearbook staff in 1902. I recently acquired a photo album of photos from 1917-1919, and I want to turn several images from that album into postcards as well. I'm doing these in limited editions of 10 photo postcards per vintage image, so that they stay collectible.


My collection website is and I also maintain a website of Mount Holyoke postcards and ephemera for sale at I welcome correspondence with other collectors of college images, and anyone who has Mount Holyoke College items for sale. Contact: Donna Albino, 455 Belmont St, East Bridgewater, MA 02333; (508)378-9650; email: