Photographic Memories | Stories | Notre Dame Review

These were the emails, texts and Instagram pictures from their day. At the dawn of the 20th century, a postcard craze swept across America.

Postcards were a popular way of sending quick, informal, and inexpensive messages to friends and family at a time when mail delivery in many cities was twice a day, and Notre-Dame was part of madness. As early as 1903, postcards showing campus buildings and scenes were circulating everywhere. At first, only the address of the recipient – no written message – was allowed on the back. This is why the greetings on these early postcards were scribbled beside or above the front image.

The year 1907 began the “split back” period, when senders were allowed to write a note on the left half of the reverse side of the card. During this time, Kodak launched a service called Real Photo Postcards, which allowed customers to create a postcard of any photo they took.

Some early postcards were printed in Europe, or printed in the United States and shipped to Europe to be colorized. European workers rarely had details of the places they were coloring, which is why some Notre Dame postcards depict red brick campus buildings or a blue gold dome.

Many postcards were never mailed, but were instead added to a personal collection or kept as a keepsake from a memorable trip.

The images on these pages are from the collection of Dan Dosmann, a resident of Mishawaka, Indiana, who collects historic postcards of the South Bend area. Its collection includes more than 550 postcards of Notre Dame, many of which show vanished campus scenes or monuments that still exist but have been greatly altered today.


Margaret Fosmoe is associate editor of this magazine. Learn more about postcards in his interview with Dosmann on our podcast, The endless conversation.

Michael E. Marquez