Troy, New York Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Postcard Views


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Views

Academic & Administration Buildings
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Student & Alumni Buildings

Troy Views

Public Buildings
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A Brief History of Picture Postcards

Picture postcards were first introduced in the United States in the late 19th century. Their size and format derives from earlier "postal cards" - blank cards with preprinted postage - which the U.S. Post Office began issuing in 1873. According to John McClintock, head of the Postcard History Society, an early form known as "souvenir cards" had a picture on the front and a space on the back for the address, but there was no space allocated for a message (CNN article, 1997).

The years 1900 to 1920 are widely regarded as the golden age of postcards, when they began to be used both as souvenirs and as an inexpensive means of communication. The majority of the postcards in this exhibit date from that period, and depict a variety of buildings and public spaces in and around Troy, New York and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The images included here are a small fraction of the Postcard Collection (accession number AC 15) held by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Archives and Special Collections Department. Originals can be seen by visiting the department during our regular business hours.


View Eric Larson's extensive collection of RPI Postcards:

Visit a postcard collectors web site for more information on this topic:

Descriptions of postcards on display in the Krause Lounge of RPI's Folsom Library:

Lance O. Spallholz's Union College postcard collection:



Research & design: Tammy Gobert
Layout & graphics: Raul Alvarez


Each of the archives' online exhibits has been created from a selection of original documents in our collections. In general, many more documents relating to a particular topic can be found in the archives, and viewers are welcome to visit the department to use these materials. Anyone interested in pursuing archival research at Rensselaer, should consult additional online information about the department and its holdings.

People occasionally wonder why we don't scan ALL of our holdings for easy access via the Web. The answer is simple: with Rensselaer's 175 year history, it would take a long time (and considerable resources) to convert the millions of photographs, letters, diaries, minutes, reports, and other items that make up the Institute's documentary past. We will continue to add to our online collections, so visit us often to see what's new in the online gallery.


Visitors to this site should assume that 1) all materials available online are under copyright protection, and 2) you must secure permission for any use of digital files other than viewing them online.  For additional information, please contact archives staff.


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