Wednesday, June 12, 2019


This blog post was written by SCHS Executive Director Mary Zawacki

Postcards are one of my favorite collections in the Grems-Doolittle Library;
I love them for their color and for their nostalgia. Indeed, on vacations or trips
out of town, I find myself drawn to the postcard bins of antique stores,
searching for just the right one to take home.

For those among us who share that love of vintage “mailing cards”, and who
also possess an interest in Schenectady history (I’m guessing the latter is why
you’re here), I’m pleased to announce a new digital postcard project! Our
volunteer and board member, Mark Vermilyea, contacted me about the project
some months back. An acquaintance of his, Bill Davis, had some 500+ vintage
Schenectady postcards stored at his home. Mark asked if SCHS would be
interested in acquiring digital images of the postcards, and of course, I
enthusiastically said yes.

Bill’s family goes back a long way in Schenectady history. His maternal
great-grandfather was instrumental in erecting the Pulaski monument on
Lafayette St. He also operated R and G bottling works out of his backyard
on Prospect St. Bill’s paternal great-grandfather owned Davis Lumber Company
on Foster Ave, where the city garage is today. Davis Lumber supplied stakes
and posts to the circus when it came to town. With this family history behind him,
Bill began his postcard collection, which today fills numerous binders in his home,
and is now making its way to the SCHS digital archive.

The first step in acquiring Bill’s collection was scanning the postcards (thanks,
Mark!), and then transferring them over to SCHS computers. From there, I’ve
been going through the digital images and adding some of my favorites to
Facebook, where they are well-received. My love of postcards, it seems, is
shared by our community. However, the project has temporarily halted as we
search for our new librarian. I’m sure the next step will involve more detailed
processing, perhaps a finding aid, or the addition of meta-data. That’s where I
bow out of the process, yet invite you to become more involved. As we
continue to catalog the images and make the postcards available online, I hope
you’ll explore them and find them as fun and vivid as I do.