Title: Greeting Card Collection
Date range of collection: 1899-present.
Scope and content note: The Greeting Card collection consists of both hand-drawn and commercially produced cards sent to and from Australian service personnel engaged in conflicts dating from the South African War (1899-1902) to the Gulf War (1991) and peacekeeping operations. Cards in the collection contain both official and personal greetings and range in type including: Greeting, Christmas, New Years, Mothers Day and Birthday cards. The collection includes many cards from VIP's including: Field Marshall Sir Thomas Albert Blamey, General Sir John Monash and Field Marshall Lord William Birdwood and cards from a variety of famous places such as Gallipoli, Flanders Field and Changi prisoner of war camp.
Provenance: Many of the cards in the collection have been donated by private individuals or from the estates of deceased service personnel and their next of kin. Others have been acquired from antiquarian dealers and subsequently donated to the War Memorial. Many of the First World War (1914-1918) cards were collected byCaptain Charles Bean of the Army War Records Unit.
Extent: The collection consists of approximately 2000 cards housed in 29 folders, plus 3 albums.
Location: Published & Digitised Collections, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial.
Related collections: Private Records Collection. The greeting cards collected for inclusion into the Published and Digitised Collection of Greeting cards were collected to show the wide variety of Greeting Card types available - not for the personal messages which they contain. The majority of examples of greeting cards with personal messages are held within the Private Record Collections.
Processing history and arrangement: Original finding aid 'Christmas Cards' created 22 July 1997. Finding aid updated and collection rehoused in 2001.
The collection was originally loosely arranged according to conflict, country of origin and unit and housed in manilla folders and Type 1 archive boxes. During the re-housing of the collection in 2000-2001 the collection was re-housed with each card placed in a mylar sleeve, then into ring-bound folders. The existing arrangement was enhanced and expanded using the order of units as listed in the unit war diaries for First and Second World War (Series AWM4 and AWM52). The use of the unit structure from these series helped to create an arrangement for this collection which encompassed every unit involved in each conflict, thus allowing for the continued expansion of the collection without the need to continuously re-organize the collection. As a result of this arrangement, there are sub-divisions listed in the collection which do not hold any items. These are shown as: (Nil)
Publication rights: Contact Curator of Published & Digitised Collections.
Copyright: Contact Curator of Published & Digitised Collections.
Preferred citation: Greeting Cards, Published & Digitised Collections, Australian War Memorial.
- Greeting cards;
- Birthday cards;
- Mother's Day cards;
- Christmas cards;
- New Years cards.
The first commercial greeting card (a Christmas card) was produced in England in November 1843. The concept of using cards to send greetings and messages was slowly adopted through the late 1800s and then increasingly so that by the early 1900s the sending of Christmas cards was widely accepted.
Greeting cards and the armed forces
Christmas 1913 - just prior to the First World War - marked the 70th anniversary of the first commercially produced Christmas card. At the time, there were over forty Christmas card publishers and wholesalers in London who employed many thousands of people to produce and distribute cards. As with the general public, the armed forces were also attracted to the card phenomenon and the use of specially designed and produced cards was commonplace for many units. The trend of using greeting cards has continued to this day, with soldiers sending and receiving both commercial, official and handmade cards to family and friends whilst on active service.
The use of handmade cards was especially prevalent during the early conflicts and in prisoner of war camps due to the unavailability of commercial cards. The use of handmade cards is less common in the last few decades, mostly due to the proliferation of commercial card manufacturers.
Scott, Peter T. Home for christmas: cards, messages and legends of the great war. (Tom Donovan: London, 1993)
Maurice Rickards. The Encyclopedia of Ephemera. (Routledge: New York, 2000)