Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection | Newberry

Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois postcard, 1942.

“Greetings from Chicago” postcard, Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection, production number 2BH-327.

Thank you for your interest in the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection (or CTPAC). You can use this research guide for information on Finding Items in the Collection, Viewing the Collection, Reproducing Images, and Offering to Donate Postcards.

The Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection was transferred in December 2016 to the Newberry from the Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois, which served as its home since 1982. The Collection is widely regarded as the largest public collection of postcards and related materials in the United States. When received at the Newberry Library it was estimated at 2.5 million total items and over 500,000 unique postcard images. The core of the collection is the Records of the Curt Teich Company, which includes over 360,000 images produced by the company from 1898 and 1978, over 110,000 production files documenting the creation of the company’s postcards, and additional company records. Several additional postcard collections and archives have been added to the Teich Archives Collection over the past 35 years, including the Detroit Publishing Company Collection, the Dexter Press Records, the John High Collection, the V. O. Hammon Company Collection, the Leonard A. Lauder Raphael Tuck Collection, and many others.

Finding Items in the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection

A number of digital collections and digital and archival research tools are available to help researchers find materials of interest in the CTPAC. These include:

Digital Collections

  • Curt Teich Postcard Archives Digital Collection: Primarily a database for the physical items in the CTPAC, this digital collection features more than 400,000 catalog records and 15,000 images for individual postcards. Search for keywords, artists, titles, or production numbers of interest, or browse by U.S. state, decade of creation, CTPAC sub-collection, or topical category. The Digital Collection does not include records for all items in the CTPAC.
  • A variety of digitized postcards from the CTPAC are available on the website of the Illinois Digital Archives. Click on “All Collections,” select letter “P,” and scroll to collections starting with the word “Postcard.”

Collection Inventories, Guides, and Indexes

  • Abstracts for all available CTPAC and other postcard collections, with brief descriptions of the collections’ contents. Click on the name of the collection to see whether a finding aid, inventory, or catalog record is available for the collection.
  • Curt Teich Company Geographic Index. Teich postcards and production files are organized by the company’s own production numbers. The Geographic Index links locations shown on postcards (typically organized by state and city) to production numbers. The index includes both handwritten and typed entries. The physical index can be requested and consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room, or see the link above for scanned PDFs of the index, organized by state. Please note that the appearance of an item in the Geographic Index does not guarantee that a card is available in the CTPAC.
  • Curt Teich Company Postcard Dating Guide. The Curt Teich Company used a variety of production number systems over its 80-year history. The dating guide helps identify the original production year of a postcard based on these production numbers.
  • Detroit Publishing Company Postcard Dating Guide. The Detroit Publishing Company Collection is organized by the company’s own production numbers. The dating guide helps identify the original production year of a postcard based on these production numbers.

If you have questions about the postcard collection or need assistance with any of these research tools, please Contact a Librarian. Reference staff may be able to help determine whether either specific postcards or categories of interest are available in the CTPAC.

Viewing the CTPAC at the Newberry

An appointment is currently required to view original materials in the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection in the Newberry’s Special Collections Reading Room. Please Contact a Librarian to make an appointment at least two business days in advance of your planned visit, keeping in mind that the Newberry’s reading rooms are open Tuesday-Friday, 9AM-5PM, and Saturday 9AM-1PM. Please include the specific collections, items, or topics you wish to research in your message. Reference staff will work with researchers to identify materials of interest and make them accessible, whenever possible.

Once inventories and catalog records have been prepared for the various parts of the CTPAC, researchers will be able to view materials in the Newberry’s Special Collections Reading Room using our standard procedures. Complete inventories for all of the collections are not immediately available.

If you would like to come with a group of five or more to view CTPAC items in the Reading Room, or for a presentation to a group of any size on the collection by a Newberry staff member, please submit a Group Visit Request Form. Please note that, while we will do our best to accommodate your group, we may not be able to fulfill all requests due to staff limitations, space constraints, and collections availability.

The Newberry is also planning to incorporate items from the collection into many of its future exhibitions.

Reproducing Images from the CTPAC

The Newberry encourages the use of these materials for personal, educational, and scholarly purposes. Any reproduction should be credited to the Newberry Library. Photographs of collection items taken in our reading room may be used only for personal purposes, including reference, research, and social media posts.

The Newberry does not claim copyright in any of the materials in the CTPAC, including postcards produced by the Curt Teich Company However, our understanding is that there is no known copyright for postcards printed by the Curt Teich Company before 1964, with the following exception: if the Teich postcard has a photographer’s copyright on it, or depicts a trademarked image, the user must seek permission from any holders of rights. For assistance in dating Curt Teich postcards, please consult the dating guide (PDF, 137 KB).

Images from Teich postcards printed after 1964 or postcards in the CTPAC printed by other companies may be subject to U.S. copyright law. It is the user’s responsibility to secure permission to publish images from any holders of rights in materials that are still under copyright.

We are unable to provide further information about the holders of rights in CTPAC images. If you have other questions regarding publication of CTPAC images, consult the webpage on Rights and Reproductions or email rightsandrepro@newberry.org.

Offering Postcards or Collections for Donation or Sale

We appreciate your interest. At this time, the Newberry is not able to consider offers of postcards, with the exception of collections previously discussed with the Lake County Discovery Museum.We will be able to do so when we have adopted a collection development policy for postcards, which will guide future acquisitions decisions. The policy will be based on the existing holdings within the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection and other Newberry collections strengths.

If you have questions about potential gifts to the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection at the Newberry Library, or if you donated postcards to the Lake County Discovery Museum, please contact us at postcards@newberry.org. Thank you.