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Missionary Postcard Collection

 Collection
Call Number: RG 101
Scope and Contents
This collection includes more than 25,000 missionary postcards. These postcards were produced by mission sending agencies and distributed throughout Europe and America with the intent of promoting support for the missions' work and providing information about non-Western peoples and customs. The majority of the postcards relate to African countries but other areas are also represented. A geographical inventory of the collection is available at https://web.library.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/YDL_Missionary_Postcards_index.pdf.

Postcards depicting missionary scenes generally were not utilized for direct communication from missionaries in the field to supporters at home, nor were they typically acquired at the sites that they depict. Rather, the postcards were produced by mission sending agencies and distributed throughout Europe and America as a means of gaining publicity and garnering support. Postcards utilized techniques of "marketing" or persuasion to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the agency producing them. Postcards produced by nondenominational and faith mission agencies, as opposed to mainline church missions agencies, often took a more pointed approach toward gathering support for their work.

While many of the postcards in the library's collection seem designed primarily to publicize the producing mission agency's work, other serve to provide information about non-Western peoples and customs. The images of the missionary postcards provide an interesting glimpse into the Christian missionary enterprise and its impact on society. They illustrate the customs, methods, and technology disseminated by the missionaries, provide depictions of indigenous life, and shed light on the culture of the missionary enterprise in the early 20th century.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Arrangement
This finding aid is an inventory of the boxes.
Dates
ca. 1920s - 1960s
Extent
46 Linear Feet (184 boxes)
Language of Materials
English