The Newton Owen Postcard Collection represents nearly a century in the life and travels of an extended Kentucky family. The earliest cards date to the late 19th century, and while the bulk of the collection dates to the period 1900-1940, there are postcards dating to the 1980s as well. It consists of 781 cards, including travel postcards and greeting cards of many different kinds.
The Newton Owen Postcard Collection consists of postcards collected by the Bayne, Foell, and Owen families. The Bayne family, consisting of Samuel and Fannie Bayne and their children, Josephine (born 1899), Samuel Junior (born 1901), and Sarah (born 1903). None of the Bayne children had any children of their own, and the collection was left to their cousin, Newton Owen. Owen also received cards from other, farther-flung branches of the family, including the Foells. Lillie Foell’s correspondence to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Foell, is particularly well documented.
Approximately half of the 781 cards in this collection are travel postcards with scenes from various locations across the United States and Europe. Kentucky -- particularly the city of Louisville -- and Indiana are well represented, comprising more than a quarter of the U.S. travel cards. The states of the American South were popular destinations, as well: nearly 35% of the U.S. travel cards are from southern states, with 57 cards from Florida alone.
The remaining cards are greeting cards, including holiday cards -- particularly Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. Other holidays, such as Thanksgiving, New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day, are covered to a lesser extent. The bulk of the greeting and holiday cards were received by members of the Bayne family.
The cards reveal much about the life lived by this extended family. Cards come from various infirmaries and health spas, from West Baden in Indiana and Exelsior Springs, Missouri, to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One family member, Lillie Foell, was a regular correspondent with her parents, sending cards and souvenir folders from her regular and extensive travels in the 1920s and 1930s.
In addition, the greeting cards reveal the sensibilities and senses of humor of a family of Kentuckians in the early 20th century, particularly as those notions were addressed to children. Anthropomorphic animals are common at Eastertime, in particular; chickens pull rabbits in carriages; chickens cook eggs on stoves; hens and chicks wear Easter dresses, etc. There are few images of the Crucifixion or Resurrection, although there are wishes for a "holy" Easter. Similarly, Santa Claus was popular at Christmas; the Holy Family, less so.
Another sensibility that must be addressed when presenting these images is the treatment of non-whites and certain other groups, particularly the Dutch. African Americans and Dutch people are depicted in stereotyped ways -- as caricatures -- in a manner that may be offensive to many viewers. The University of Louisville and the University Archives & Records Center does not endorse the content of, or expression carried by, these images. However, these images do present the attitudes and assumptions of the period in which they were produced. The cultural record would be incomplete -- and we would not be honest with ourselves and our past -- if these images were omitted.