The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum Library boasts more than 10,000 postcards in its “hidden” collection; arranged by subject in card file drawers, they range in date from the turn of the century to the 1990’s.
This collection includes notes from youth embarking on the Grand Tour, descriptions of dorm life from students at elite educational institutions, souvenirs from World's Fairs, and photographs of historical buildings that have since been demolished, as well as letters to and from the Hewitt sisters, the granddaughters of innovative scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur Peter Cooper, who founded the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1859. In 1897, Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt started a gallery of the decorative arts on the fourth floor of the Cooper Union, which expanded to become what we now know as the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
In this first post, the Libraries will feature Parisian fashion postcards.
The latest international fashions were printed on postcards and recorded as both photographs and hand-drawn illustrations.
Those interested in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fashion and costume may find the collection to be an invaluable resource.
Stay tuned for more postcard fun…—Sara O'Keeffe