Lewis University Canal Corridor Postcards (Lewis University)
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Questions about this collection? Contact:
1-815-836-5579 or
1-815-836-5665

About this Collection

Canal Corridor Postcards

The Fabric of Our Past
Postcards from Joliet, Illinois, the United States, and Beyond


Lewis University's professor emeritus John Lamb, renowned local historian, coined the phrase "the fabric of our past" to mean the tangible structures that convey the history of an area. These are structures such as canals, bridges, railroads, and buildings that do not need to be researched through text; you can view them through photos, drawings, maps, and in this case, postcards, or you can simply go out and see them on location, as many of these structures are still around. These structures are the most tangible and pictorial part of history that define the look and feel of a place; i.e., its fabric.

This collection shows in postcards many of the structures that were around at the beginning of the twentieth century. While the majority of these postcards focus on Joliet, Illinois, and other towns along the Illinois & Michigan Canal Corridor, they also include structures in other states and countries, for a truly international collection. Note the quality printing on cards produced in Germany during the Divided Back period also called the "Golden Age of Postcards".



Included in this collection are three different periods of time, determined by the backs of the postcards (Descriptions of time periods taken from the Smithsonian Website at http://www.si.edu/archives/postcards/chronology.htm):

"Undivided Back" Period 1901-1907

Messages were not allowed on the backs of the cards and the words "Post Card" instead of "Postal Mailing Card" were allowed to be printed on the card.

"Divided Back" Period 1908-1914

Messages could be written on the left side of the card while the right side was used for the address. During this period, the blank space on the front of postcards, which previously was for messages, disappeared.

"White Border" Period 1915-1930

German printers dominated the market in postcard printing until this period. When World War I began, postcards were mostly supplied by printers in the United States. Printers saved ink by not printing to the edge of the card and leaving a white border around the image.


We invite you now to browse our postcards and see the Fabric of Our Past.



The postcards were donated by various individuals and can be seen at the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection Lewis University.

For more information on the history of the area see our website at http://www.lewisu.edu/imcanal.