State Archives looking for your Delaware vacation photos

The Delaware Public Archives wants to add your vacation pictures to its collection of 6,000 postcards.

Let’s face it, the postcard is dead.  If not dead, it’s at least on life support.  

Years ago, if you wanted to show friends and family pictures of your vacation spot, you’d send a post card or maybe you’d wait to get the film developed and show the prints.  Maybe you remember visiting that relative who would pull out the slide projector and screen so you could relive his vacation slide by slide.

But now, with the advent of smart phones and social media, friends and family can follow along with your vacation hour by hour on Facebook and Twitter.  Yes, the occassional postcard may still be sent, but the majority of travelers are not using them.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Past meets present

But the past is meeting the present at a new exhibit now on display at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover.  Last summer, Irene Caley donated the collection of about 6,500 postcards.  Her husband George spent his life building the collection of postcards primarily depicting Delaware scenes.

“It’s a beautiful representation of Delaware of yesteryear, all the big communities and beaches that no longer exist,” says Sarah Denison, processing archivist at the State Archives.  The postcards, which range from 1900 to 2002, capture a slice of life from the past, mixing humor and art in a unique way.  

“One of my favorite postcards is a postcard illustration of a penguin and an alligator on the beach in Rehoboth with Playland illustrated in the background,” says Denison.  “It’s just bizarre, but it’s just silly things that are indicative of where people’s minds were at the time and what could get a laugh.” 

The collection is on display at the Public Archives building in Dover.  It has also been posted online on Flickr.  There, you can search the collection by county, town, year, or subject.

Send your photos

While processing the collection, Denison says she realized the number of postcards dwindled after peaking in the middle of the last century.  That led to a decision to get Delaware travelers to help expand the collection by contributing their vacation photos online.  

“We wanted to encourage people to share what we’re calling their modern day postcards with us.”  Denison says photos can be sent via the Archives’ Twitter or Facebook accounts or through email.  It’s all part of an effort at the Delaware Public Archives to keep up with the way life is being documented.  “We’re constantly looking for ways to make things really easy and accessible for people.  We don’t want to miss the things that used to come to us in boxes and boxes, stacks of paper or books.”

“It’s part of our mission too, just to keep things moving forward and being caretakers of all the things that are being collected and created by people in Delaware.” 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal