Chicago Postcard Museum

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Chicago Postcard Museum
Established November 2007
Location Internet website,
mailing address: 5720 N. Belt West, Unit 20 - Suite 172, Belleville, IL 62226
Type History Museum
Visitors Online Only
Director Neil Gale
Curator Neil Gale
Public transit access None

The Chicago Postcard Museum is an online private and independent organization that seeks to provide a visual history of Chicago through postcards. Neil Gale, Ph.D. Is the museum curator.


The Chicago Postcard Museum was founded on November 1, 2007 by Dr. Neil Jan Gale. In honor of its opening, they created forty 26 cent postage stamps to be placed on mailing announcements.[1] This website was created partially to preserve postcards, which are not used as frequently because of the internet.[2] As Hypertext notes, "users are allowed not only to peruse [the postcards] but to use [them] on their own Web sites, provided they link back to the museum.[2]


The Chicago Postcard Museum offers itself as a digital archive of postcards from individuals as well as a collection of postcards recounting a segment of Chicago history. Though the collecting of postcards, as Timeout Chicago notes, "might seem like an exercise in irony (a website dedicated to a form of communication that's been...supplanted by the Web?)," the preservation of this medium of communication provides an archive that can allow future historians access to contemporary and past methods of interaction, as well as visual imagery that had contemporary significance.[3]

Postcard condition statement[edit]

Postcards are welcomed whether new or old, written on or blank. The fronts and backs of every postcard are preserved and shown on the site. Each postcard is carefully preserved, but nothing is fixed in order to maintain the character of each postcard.[1]

The collection[edit]

The postcards are donated to the museum and its owners. They are organized into a series of web pages. The entire collection is willed to the Chicago History Museum upon the curator's death.[4]

19th Century Rotunda[edit]

This collection shows postcards from the 19th Century Era, also known as the Private Mailing Card Era. The collection has postcards from the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The first commercial postal cards produced in the U.S. were sold at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.[5]

Greetings From Chicago & Large Letter Postcards[edit]

There is a complete collection of Greeting from Chicago postcards and large Letter postcards sorted by postmark date when possible.

Early 20th Century Wing: The 'Golden Age' of Postcards[edit]

The time period in this wing is from 1900 through 1949, and includes postcards from the turn of the 20th century in which Chicago grew by leaps and bounds.

Hold to Light Koehler Chicago Postcards[edit]

Hold to Light is a term that means 'when held up to a strong light, the moon, the windows, and vehicles light up brilliantly.' The printing firm owned by Joseph Koehler from 1892–1911 became well known especially after publishing an unofficial postcard set of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Koehler postcards have a very distinct style to them and is the reason why Koehler postcards are so sought after by collectors. All Joseph Koehler postcards were printed in Berlin, Germany.[6]

"I WILL" Galleries[edit]

Located in The Gregg P. Durham Lobby, the "I Will" Chicago Postcard series was produced by the Acmegraph Company, Chicago ca.1910. The series reflected the Chicago motto, born after the Great Chicago Fire on Sunday, October 8, 1871, which is "I WILL" rebuild.

Chicago At Night[edit]

There is a complete collection of Chicago at night postcards that is sorted by age when possible.

Room 56[edit]

Room 56 covers Chicago postcards from the 1950s and 1960s.

Special Exhibits Hall[edit]

Located in The Richard J. Daley Memorial Green Room, the collection is dedicated to displaying the great features of Chicago. The Special Exhibits Hall hosts the museum's temporary exhibitions and special postcard collections. Some of the exhibitions cover The Museum of Science and Industry and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Section Seven-89[edit]

The collection includes cards from the 1970s to the 1990s. Postcard styles changed to scalloped edges, a color border and a thin strip of white space with the cards title.

Souvenir Hall[edit]

The collection consists of foldouts and special sets.

The 21st Century Annex[edit]

The collection includes 4 by 6 inches (100 mm × 150 mm) postcards, over-sized postcards, and shaped cutout postcards that represent the 21st century.

The Conference Center[edit]

There is a collection of postcards that users and visitors can help the Museum determine what category these postcards belong in.

The Panoramic Pavilion[edit]

There is a complete collection of panoramic photographic postcards that show The Shedd Aquarium and more.

New Acquisitions[edit]

The new acquisitions section highlights latest discoveries provided by users and visitors.

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]