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World War I postcards, circa 1914-1918
1 box (0.2 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0057

Photographic postcards from World War I, printed in England. Twenty-four images with captions in English, primarily showing British soldiers on battlefields or at rest or those supporting the war effort on the home front.

Terms of Access and Use: Restrictions on use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Historical Note

Postcards were a popular means of communication during World War I and the postcard industry at that time employed large numbers of cartoonists and photographers. These cards were exchanged by soldiers and loved ones at home and sought after by postcard collectors who tried to find complete sets of them. Combatants in the war also used postcards for propaganda purposes, especially to encourage support from citizens of neutral countries. Such cards extolled the virtues of each country's military and home front war efforts, presented training and battlefield experiences in positive ways, and mocked their enemies.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection consists of twenty-four photographic postcards (with multiple copies of many of them) which were printed in England during World War I. The captions of the postcards in this collection are: "After the Battle;" "An 'Archie' at Work;" The Bottling of Zeebrugge;" "A Brief Respite;" "Britain's Women Workers;" "The British Air Force;" "British and American Air-Pilots on the Western Front;" "A British Cheer;" "Commander-in-Chief;" "Fighting the U-boat in British shipyards;" "Getting in the Flax Crop;" "A Giant British Aeroplane;" "Good Friends;" "In Jerusalem; "In Safe Keeping;" "The Letter Home;" "A Memorial to German Savagery;" "On the Western Front;" "'On Top';" Out of Action;" "Ready for a flight over the German lines;" "The Sign of Mercy;" "Visual Signalling;" and "Waiting for the Enemy."

These cards how people and scenes in England or France with the exception of one card of India Lancers in Jerusalem and another of graves in Queenstown, Ireland of 178 people who died in the German attack on the British ocean liner "Lusitania". Most cards show British solders on battlefields or in camps or British women supporting the war effort by helping to build airplanes, working of farms, and serving as nurses. The cards include scenes of soldiers using airplanes, anti-aircraft guns, and signaling equipment. There is also a postcard of Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief of British Armies in France.

The publisher, exact date, and original purpose of the cards is unknown. There are no identifying marks as to printer or photographer, but the postcards are clearly a set: each has "S" and a number printed somewhere on it (implying they belong to a series) and the captions are all set in the same way. As a whole, the postcards present a positive view of the British war effort and may have been used for propaganda purposes.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on use:


Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

World War I Postcards, Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA

History of the Collection

Processing Information

Processed by Alena McNamara, 2011

Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

Email Reference Form:

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Battlefields - France - Pictorial works.
  • Women and war--England.
  • World War, 1914-1918--England--Pictorial works.
  • World War, 1914-1918--England--Women's work--Pictorial works.
  • World War, 1914-1918--France--Pictorial works.

Genre terms
  • Postcards.

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