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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.
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.
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
Processed by Alena McNamara, 2011
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: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm