The Billy Graham Center Museum, under the leadership of James Stambaugh, for many years collected postcards, mostly American, which had a Christian or religious connotation of any kind. Many of these cards were explicitly evangelistic, advertising meetings or giving some kind of gospel message. This postcard collection was eventually transferred to the BGC Archives. Below are a few samples from its rich holdings.
The Lord's Prayer
Postcards can send a message in more ways than one. For a century and more, Christian churches and ministries have used postcards as an ideal means to send a simple, direct message emphasizing the shortness of life or the power of sin, or the way of salvation through Jesus Christ or the need to leave a committed Christian life.
Here we will show a few of the individual postcards and postcards sets illustrating hymns. The cards might be in black and white or color and would contain the lyrics of a hymn verse, with and illustrated, often a posed photo. Many times the postcard publisher would sell a separate card for each verse of a multi-verse hymn. The same or similar combination of words and picture were used as slides for sing along, with the image projected by magic lanterns in theatres and other public assemblies. Sometimes evangelists used a particular hymn as the theme song for their ministry or for a particular campaign and would sell postcards with the song at the bookstall at their meetings.
|"Rock of Ages"|
|"Lead Kindly Light"|
|"The Holy City"|
|"Just As I Am"|
|"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"|
|"Bring in the Sheaves"|
|"God Will Take Care of You"|
|"Ambassadors for the King"|
A Little Humor
Humorous cards are rather rare in the collection, but there are some. Sometimes the humor might be very slight, more in the line of the drawing then in the actual message. There are many cards in the collections that were sent to tell children and adults that they had been missed in Sunday School. Sometimes humor was used to take the edge off the message (below, ca. 1975). Postcard publishers often had a line of humorous cards that included caricatures of different types of scenes and people seen around a city, including street corner evangelists or controversial people like temperance worker Carrie Nation (above, ca. 1905). And there a few sight gags, photos of scenes that are incongruous for one reason or another.
|Come to Sunday School - Postcards, usually sent to children, to encourage them to come to Sunday School class|
|The Saloon Smasher - A set of British postcards based on stories of the militant American temperance worker Carrie Nation, who used to smash beer barrels and taverns with her hatchet. Her actions were based on her strong Christian beliefs.|