Using the Curt Teich Postcard Archives

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Using the Curt Teich Postcard Archives

If you’re looking for images of towns where your ancestors lived, try using the Curt Teich Postcard Archives. The Curt Teich Company was once was the world leader in the printing of view and advertising postcards.

Using the Curt Teich Postcard Archives is easier now that the collection is located, digitized, and cared for at the Newberry Library.

The Collection is widely regarded as the largest public collection of postcards and related materials in the United States. 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. Several additional postcard collections and archives have been added to the Teich Archives Collection over the past 35 years, including 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.

A boon to genealogists is the ability to search by location or by subject headings, such as street views, cemeteries, or churches.

Using the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection

Digital Collections

  • Curt Teich Postcard Archives Digital Collection: Primarily a database for the physical items in the CTPAC, this digital collection features more than 400,000 catalog records and 15,000 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 items in the CTPAC.
  • A variety of digitized postcards from the CTPAC are available on the website of the Illinois Digital Archives. Click on “All Collections,” select letter “P,” and scroll to collections starting with the word “Postcard.”

Collection Inventories, Geographic Index, and Dating Guides

  • 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.

For information on other digital collections for your genealogy research, click here.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine’s “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

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