The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Vintage Halloween: Haunted Postcards from the Early 1900s

In the olden days, Hallowe’en provided another reason to send friends and family celebratory postcards. (These days, it provides another reason to don a slutty outfit and make out with strangers.) Culled from the New York Public Library digital gallery of vintage ephemera, here are some wonderful public domain archival images of haunted postcards from the 1910s.

One thing yesteryear’s Halloween festivities had in common with today’s were the popular parties for young adults to celebrate the occasion. A common superstition from the era held that if a young woman looked in a mirror on that night, she’d see the face of the man she was meant to marry. True to the period’s typical snark, many of the postcards poked fun at the hooey.

And in another wink at the past’s visions for the future of technology, here’s a card that depicts a high-tech witch with her “charms new and all up do date,” flying an “Aeroplane” instead of broom.

An NYPL digital librarian notes:

The playful style and breezy content of the postcards vividly evoke an era of frequent correspondence on every possible occasion, in which postcards served as the ’email’ of their time.”

(Cue in omnibus of vintage versions of modern social media.)

As a lover of public libraries, I make regular donations to NYPL — a small token of gratitude for their tireless preservation of the past, thoughtful lens on the present, and keen eye on the future. Join me in supporting them.

Published October 31, 2011




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