Chapman Center student social media coordinator, Karen Schneck, was a Horticulture major with a passion for collecting postcards when she showed her personal collection to the Chapman Center director in 2015. This began a two year-long project scanning over 4,000 unique Kansas postcards and creating a digital collection with the help of fellow Chapman Center students.
While scanning and organizing the postcards, Karen began collecting research about the postcards, even tracking down information about the origins of the collection. For the past several months, Karen has been sharing this collection in a Facebook series titled “Sunflower Stamps from the Sunflower State” with the hash tag #SunflowerStamps. Each week, Karen selects a postcard from a Kansas county and shares history about the place, the time, or the people who lived there.
Where did the collection originate? Karen purchased the majority of her postcard collection from an estate sale for Sally Fitzpatrick Postma (1924-2012) who began collecting postcards in the 1960s, building on a collection started by her mother Charline Fitzpatrick. The 80s and 90s saw Mrs. Postma attending postcard shows and building a community of postcard friends who collected and exchanged these postcards. A Lawrence, Kansas native and longtime resident, Mrs. Postma was a homemaker and an elementary school teacher. Daughter Rosalea Postma-Carttar said of her mother, “She adored my father, Jim Postma, whom she married in 1954”. Karen feels Sally’s passion for the beauty and richness of Kansas, history, family, and life are in the essence of the postcards.
“Postcards make me happy and excited,” Karen says. “They are pieces of history with many stories attached to them. Now that they are preserved in the form of a digital scan, I want them to be shared with others to honor the memory of their original owner, Sally Postma, and all the people who sent and received these cards.”
The featured postcards are a sneak peek at the kind of postcards in the collection. Karen chose these cards because they highlight the value of preserving the past. Shady Bend Mill, for example, famously burnt to the ground on June 13th 1963. The image captures the mill as it stood in 1908.
This kind of project encapsulates the Chapman Center’s mission of supporting and encouraging the recovery of lived experience, lost towns and settlements, original lands, and changing landscapes.
Visit the Chapman Center for Rural Studies Facebook page every Monday to see what county will be next.
Written By: Maggie Cody