Picture Perfect

Postcards from University Archives depict yesterday’s Sewanee in timeless style.


T he staff and work-study students of University Archives and Special Collections recently completed the cataloging and organization of its collection of Sewanee postcards. Alongside the brightly colored glossy photo cards dating from the 1960s to the present is an impressive collection of postcards from the first half of the 20th century that depict a Sewanee that few people alive today can recall.

Many of these cards bear the imprint of the Albertype Company, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based publisher of postcards and viewbooks that was founded to take advantage of recent innovations in photomechanical printing. From 1890 to 1952, the company produced more than 25,000 “albertypes,” which employed a then-new technique to make prints from photo negatives.

Many of these hand-colored cards depict scenes—mostly individual buildings—that appear quite different today, if they exist at all: All Saints’ Chapel before its completion, Fulford Hall before its renovation, teams of horses plowing the fields behind Quintard Hall. But evidence of Sewanee’s timelessness appears in other photos—St. Luke’s Hall, Johnson Hall, Morgan’s Steep—that could have been taken yesterday.