HCHS Holiday Collection Gem

Authored by: Don Cornelius, HCHS Manuscript Curator

2020 has been a tough year. Between the pandemic that has shut our doors to the membership and public, losses both public and private, and all of our personal Covid travails, it has been tough to endure. Where to find that Holiday Spirit?

Where else but in the Archives? And how else, other than by accident? On a Friday night, two weeks before Christmas, I was comparing a pre-move donation checklist against an inventory manifest to reconcile a few missing items. And then I uncovered the most unexpected thing: a collection of over 100 Christmas and New Year’s Cards from around the world! Unfortunately, there is no donor information; I have no idea who put this collection together or even donated it to us. This small collection popped out of seemingly nowhere… right when it seems like I needed it.

The cards all appear to be from the early 1950’s to the early 1960’s. I have inspected the names and addresses on the inside of the cards, but there is no theme or consistency that would definitively tell me who or what family they belonged to – I suspect they were collected not for the correspondence but for the internationality of the cards themselves. All are clearly holiday cards, with Christmas and New Year’s messages inside. My guess is they were written to home from people abroad for work, travel, or other reasons. I did not find any Chanukah or other cultural celebration cards, only Christmas and New Year’s.

But the cards are amazing! Some are colorful, some stark black and white. Some clearly religious, others merely with a postcard scene from the country of origin. I estimate there are at least 40 different countries represented in the collection. Some have long and full pages of correspondence written inside, and some are simply signed. The variety and the sentiments expressed could not help but make me feel a little more upbeat.

At last, I thought, a little Holiday spirit. I hope you enjoy the dozen or so cards I chose to scan and share (click on the image for a larger view). I hope they leave you feeling a little more cheer than you had before, as they did for me. And to think, I found my holiday cheer in the archives this year – by accident!

Happy Holidays from the Hunterdon County Historical Society







Navajo, USA