Postcard Collections

The Newberry's postcard collection is widely regarded as the largest public collection of postcards and related materials in the United States. The Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection (CTPAC) was transferred in December 2016 to the Newberry from the Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois, which served as its home since 1982. When received at the Newberry Library it was estimated at 2.5 million total items and over 500,000 unique postcard images.

The core of the collection is the Records of the Curt Teich Company, which includes over 360,000 images produced by the company from 1898 and 1978, over 110,000 production files documenting the creation of the company’s postcards, and additional company records.

Additional postcard collections and archives available at the Newberry include the Detroit Publishing Company Collection, the Dexter Press Records, the John High Collection, the V. O. Hammon Company Collection, the Leonard A. Lauder Raphael Tuck Collection, and many others. Collections continue to be added to the library's holdings, such as the John I. Monroe Collections of Fantasy Postcards, Sports Postcards, Exposition Postcards, and Artist-Signed Postcards

A number of digital collections and digital and archival research tools are available to help researchers find materials of interest in the CTPAC. These include:

Digital Collections

  • Newberry Digital Collections: The Newberry's digital collections include a growing selection of postcard images, as well as a Postcard Gallery with dozens of browsable categories. 
  • Curt Teich Postcard Archives Digital Collection: Primarily a database for the physical items in the CTPAC, this digital collection is currently the best place to start when searching for postcards produced by the Curt Teich Co. It features more than 400,000 catalog records and 19,000 images for individual postcards. Search for keywords, artists, titles, or production numbers of interest, or browse by U.S. state, decade of creation, CTPAC sub-collection, or topical category. The Digital Collection does not include records for all postcards in the Newberry's collections. 
  • Postcards at the Internet Archive: A growing digital collection of around 27,000 postcards from the holdings at the Newberry, including the Leonard A. Lauder Raphael Tuck & Sons Collection, Curt Teich Co. postcards, and other collections.

Collection Inventories, Guides, and Indexes

  • Abstracts for all available CTPAC and other postcard collections, with brief descriptions of the collections’ contents. Click on the name of the collection to see whether a finding aid, inventory, or catalog record is available for the collection.
  • Curt Teich Company Geographic Index. Teich postcards and production files are organized by the company’s own production numbers. The Geographic Index links locations shown on postcards (typically organized by state and city) to production numbers. The index includes both handwritten and typed entries. The physical index can be requested and consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room, or see the link above for scanned PDFs of the index, organized by state. Please note that the appearance of an item in the Geographic Index does not guarantee that a card is available in the CTPAC.
  • Curt Teich Company Postcard Dating Guide. The Curt Teich Company used a variety of production number systems over its 80-year history. The dating guide helps identify the original production year of a postcard based on these production numbers.
  • Detroit Publishing Company Postcard Dating Guide. The Detroit Publishing Company Collection is organized by the company’s own production numbers. The dating guide helps identify the original production year of a postcard based on these production numbers.

Original materials in the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection are available for use during the Newberry’s reading room hours. Readers are strongly advised to make an appointment to view original materials. Please contact us to make an appointment at least two business days in advance of your planned visit. Please include the specific collections, items, or topics you wish to research in your message. Reference staff will work with researchers to identify materials of interest and make them accessible, whenever possible.

Once inventories and catalog records have been prepared for the various parts of the CTPAC, researchers are able to view materials in the Newberry’s Special Collections Reading Room using our standard procedures. Complete inventories for all of the collections are not immediately available.

If you would like to come with a group of five or more to view CTPAC items in the Reading Room, or for a presentation to a group of any size on the collection by a Newberry staff member, please submit an inquiry through our Group Visit Request Form. Please note that, while we will do our best to accommodate your group, we may not be able to fulfill all requests due to staff limitations, space constraints, and collections availability.

The Newberry does not claim copyright in any of the materials in the CTPAC, including postcards produced by the Curt Teich Company However, our understanding is that there is no known copyright for postcards printed by the Curt Teich Company before 1964, with the following exception: if the Teich postcard has a photographer’s copyright on it, or depicts a trademarked image, the user must seek permission from any holders of rights. For assistance in dating Curt Teich postcards, please consult the dating guide.

Images from Teich postcards printed after 1964 or postcards in the CTPAC printed by other companies may be subject to US copyright law. It is the user’s responsibility to secure permission to publish images from any holders of rights in materials that are still under copyright.

We are unable to provide further information about the holders of rights in CTPAC images. If you have other questions regarding publication of CTPAC images, please Ask a Librarian.

The Newberry continues to build the postcard collection selectively through gifts and acquisitions of coherent postcard collections that enhance existing holdings and relate to other core collections at the library. See our Postcard Collecting Policy for more information.

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