It Came From the Archives: Hall’s ‘A History in Postcards’ presented in a TROY Libraries exhibit

 

Selected from the Wade Hall Collection of Postcards, Military Service: A History in Postcards is a Troy University Libraries’ presentation of deltiological history. “Deltiology”, first coined in 1945, is the collection and study of postcards. 

Dr. Wade Hall
Dr. Wade Hall

In 2002, Troy alumnus and Union Springs, Alabama native Dr. Wade H. Hall (1934-2015) gave his life collection of postcards to Troy University Libraries. The collection of postcards now held in Troy University’s Archives numbers more than 31,000. In addition to being a collector of many things, Dr. Hall was also a teacher, an English scholar, and the author of many books. Troy Libraries has curated Dr. Hall’s postcard collection creating four exhibits that offer such a gaze into the past. 

The “Military Service: A History in Postcards” exhibit was conceived in 2019 during curation of the collection. Organizing the collection revealed a large subset of postcards related to U.S. military history that spanned 1903 to the mid-1960’s. Troy Libraries developed a plan for grant funding and in August 2020, with support from the Alabama Humanities Alliance, the “Military Service” project launched a website featuring 28 slideshows of Hall’s military history postcards. The slideshows allow viewers to access and download each of the slideshows, which represent different military branches and time periods. Interested? View at: https://troy.libguides.com/military.

Concurrent with the development of the website and slideshows, Troy Libraries with assistance from Troy’s School of Art & Design created a screen banner exhibit displaying the military postcards. The screen banner exhibit was spearheaded by Kelly Reeves, Ruth Elder & Jana Slay from Troy Libraries, Marty Olliff of the Wiregrass Archives and Jerry Johnson from Art & Design. In February 2021, Troy Libraries introduced the sixteen-panel screen banner exhibit that has traveled Alabama and the throughout the country.

The 16 exhibit panels cover service branches in World War I and World War II; “Real Action” postcards; Personal & Photo postcards; Patriotic Slogan and Prayer postcards; Soldiers’ Homes; Military Romance, Comics, and Schools; and Alabama’s military.

Dr. Wade Hall's military related postcard collection was transformed into a traveling exhibit.
Dr. Wade Hall’s military related postcard collection was transformed into a traveling exhibit.

While primarily intended to be educational, both the traveling exhibit and companion website provide reminiscent entertainment to veterans, current enlisted military, military organizations and groups. Indeed, since February 2021, the traveling exhibit has displayed at 20 venues, which includes libraries, museums and military posts.

Dr. Wade Hall's collection of military related postcards on display in the Nimitz Library at the United States Naval Academy.
Dr. Wade Hall’s collection of military related postcards on display in the Nimitz Library at the United States Naval Academy, where the staff incorporated the exhibit with their own display of Admiral John Paul Jones postcards.

Engagements for the exhibit have spanned one- and two-months periods, and it has been viewed by more than 200,000 patrons. The website featuring the postcard slideshows has been viewed over 1,400 times. Any party interested in hosting the 16-panel traveling exhibit can contact: Kelly Reeves, Troy University Libraries, jreeves157554@troy.edu; (334)670-3257.

Sources:  

“Deltiology.” Wikipedia, Wikipedia Foundation, 1 August 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deltiology

Photos from U.S. Military Academy courtesy of Mary E. Ahenakew, Exhibitions Librarian, U.S.M.A. (retired).

Photos from U.S. Naval Academy courtesy of Mark De Jong, Associate Director for Collections, Nimitz Library.

The author, Kelly Reeves, is the Interlibrary Loan Coordinator & Night Circulation Supervisor at the Troy Campus Library.

The postcard collection made its debut at the United States Military Academy.
The postcard collection made its debut at the United States Military Academy.
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