It Came from the Archives: Vintage Christmas cards

Dr. Marty Olliff's monthly column examines a collection of Christmas cards dating to 1924.

Dr. Marty Olliff's monthly column examines a collection of Christmas cards dating to 1924.

The Wiregrass Archives has just received a found collection (scavenged from the curb) that contains a number of Christmas cards dating from 1924 to 1958, all sent to the same Alabama resident.  With just a little bit of experience, you can see that they are fairly specific to the artwork common to their era, and that styles and themes changed over these tumultuous three decades.  We thought we’d share.


This 1924 postcard shares a number of artistic themes of its day, such as the beaux-arts holly on the blue candles and the particular style of the light rays.

The 1930s and early 1940s featured cleaner lines, die-cuts, and embossing.  This card from 1938 has a cut-out of the open door, overlooking a bucolic scene on the interior page.

This postcard of a poinsettia on green embossed tile from 1938 shows the on-going influence of the Art Deco movement.

Compare this simple die-cut edge card from 1941 with the next one from 1943.

The card from 1943 shows themes and artwork inspired by two years of World War 2:  the red-white-and-blue transport enclosed in an oval of red stars, carrying mail bound for the rustic, peaceful scene of home.  The oval behind the airplane is a cut out.

The 1950s brought rising prosperity for middle class white families, at least, and a focus on children as the baby boom was in full swing.  This 1954 Hallmark card was sent from one adult couple to another, but its motif is full toy chest.

Our last two are from 1958.

The first is a novelty card with a deceptively simple design and obscure message meant to be humorous.  Some of the artwork squares with Dr. Seuss illustrations from that same era.  Produced by National ArtCrafts, it is 8.75 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide.  The interior message makes it appear to have been custom printed, and it is the only card in this sampling that carries a union label.

The card below, by Cardinal Creations, is not as simply designed though it is more conventional and its message is more transparent. Prosperity and coziness abound.

Regardless of what YOU celebrate, the staff of the Wiregrass Archives wishes you Happy Holidays.

Be safe and well!

It Came from the Archives is an ongoing series spotlighting the fascinating collections at the Wiregrass Archives. To find out more, visit online at or in person in Everett Hall on the Dothan Campus.