October 20, 2022

Clarissa Ferraris and Mark Routh

A Digital Catalog
on Postcards of the Pandemic

From early 2020 through to 2022 the world endured a major historic event – the Covid-19 Pandemic. We are only now starting to move on from it having learned and perhaps accepted, that we need to live with this. Like most major events, the pandemic was captured on postcards.

When looking at the more than 1,800 postcards collected by Clarissa Ferraris (USA) and Mark Routh (UK), one cannot but be astonished by the creativity of artists from over 60 countries. There is a clear difference from the postcards created during the pandemic of 1918, when photographs of hospitals and nurses were the norm. The purpose of this article is to announce to Postcard History’s readers a way to browse the entire collection of Covid themed postcards. 

Let’s start from the beginning. Mark and Clarissa, with the digital expertise of Allan Milbrabt and the support of Hal Ottaway from the Wichita Postcard Club, have created a digital catalog of all the postcards in their collections related to the recent pandemic. The goal was to share these special collections with the public and especially with postcard enthusiasts.

The first challenge in creating a digital catalog of a huge collection was to find a platform that would allow entries of pictures and text easily. The cost of software was taken into consideration, but the most important feature was the ease with which the catalog could be shared. 

Allan suggested, AirTable. Its qualities were immediately apparent. Creating the framework of a digital catalog is very easy – like typing headings on columns in a spreadsheet. Subsequently, some rules were needed to ensure that keywords were entered consistently, such as countries and topics. Once the framework and rules were set, entering a record, i.e., all the data concerning one postcard, took less than one minute.

Thus, for each record in the catalog, the following information was entered: a scan of the front (and often the back) of the postcard, the country of origin, the artist’s name, and topics from a pre-established list. A title was given to each postcard to describe it.

To ensure the complete description of the postcards, other information such as websites or comments were added. Anything that was known about a specific postcard was recorded.

Vendor’s information, where the postcard was acquired, was also provided to encourage users to build a collection of their own. (It was decided that only sites where the artists were selling directly were mentioned; sites like eBay or Delcampe were excluded. The logic was that it could not be assumed that the postcards would be available months later.)

The topics list established was arbitrary, but it covered all aspects of the pandemic: animals, coronavirus, earth/world views, essential workers, greetings, health messages, humor, lockdowns, masks, photos, politics, shortages, social distancing, staycations, testing, vaccines, and working.  

It was found that some postcard designs were issued in different colors and in various versions by different editors. Sometimes, the same postcard was sent with a cancellation and/or a stamp that was relevant to a pandemic collection. In these cases, the various versions were combined in a single record by adding more images and comments, as aids to the researcher. This allowed the capture of nuances while not overloading the catalog.

Currently the digital catalog is ready for use! Although we will keep adding records as we find new postcards, we hope that you will look at them, search for them, and be inspired to collect them.  Use of the catalog is free! 

If you have a postcard that is not listed, tell us so we can add it to the digital catalog. Go to the Additions Page. On that page you will find a form to provide us with all the necessary information.

To help the collector and researcher a website was created to provide information on how to use the catalog and find more information. Also, the site provides search information, and every field is searchable, just enter a keyword: like a topic, country, artist’s name, or any word.

To Access the Covid Postcard Digital Catalog go to:
https://sites.google.com/view/covidpostcardsdatabase/

To get an idea of what you will see, the screenshot below is a good example. The record highlighted in orange, is the first found with a keyword search of Sri Lanka. There are two, and you can navigate to the other one by a click. 

Below a full record is shown. With a click, the picture can be enlarged.  Then you can see a title that describes the postcard. In this case, it shows the wording on the postcard. Below if needed a back picture, followed by more information such as number of postcards in this series, country of origin, artist’s name if known, a website, vendor, topics selected, a list of the postcards in the series, and comments

Please, have fun searching this new digital catalog for free, but it is asked that you use the results only for your enjoyment and not for any commercial purpose. It is formally prohibited to copy the information for commercial purposes.

We had fun collecting and hope that you will enjoy browsing this catalog of amazing postcards made by artists with vivid imaginations. Their cards are an astonishing record of a painful part of this century.

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This collection is absolutely AMAZING! I cannot even imagine how you went about collecting them all—especially in such pristine condition. I myself as a member of Postcrossing have only received 3 pandemic cards. Wow—bravo to you to document this event!

An amazing Tour de Force, many thanks.

I’ll pass on these. I also do not collect postcards of train wreaks.

there no train wreaks.. I am not sure that I understand your comment

The “Virtual Meeting” card from Canada brought back memories of Brady Bunch jokes and screen freezes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bob Kozak

It is not often that anyone is able to get a handle on a whole single subject of postcards from all over the world. Clarissa and Mark have done it and their work will be appreciated for years to come!

It’s amazing what can be done to find & record any information you need or want. 🤪

amazing –

Wow!

Just look at this enthusiasm and the response!! Thanks, Clarissa and Mark for going to the effort and expense to collect this many cards WHILE THEY WERE STILL AVAILABLE. The time to try to find them is during the event. What a history and what great cards many of these are AND THEY are worldwide too! Good Job as we hear folks say these days. Thank you Postcard History for sharing this good news all around the globe.

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