Collection inventory

Special Collections home page
printer friendly version

Syracuse University Postcard Collection

An inventory of the collection held by the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Syracuse University.
Title: Syracuse University Postcard Collection
Dates: 1860-2004
Size: 9 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Abstract: The Syracuse University Postcard Collection contains both mailed and unmailed postcards of University buildings, students, and activities.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Historical Note

Syracuse University officially began its proud tradition in higher education on March 24, 1870, when the Syracuse University Board of Trustees signed the University charter and certificate of incorporation. The Board, headed by leaders of the New York Methodist Church, were eager to act upon the vision put forth a month prior at the Methodist State Convention. At that convention, a resolution to build an institution of higher learning in the promising, centrally located city of Syracuse was met with immediate, passionate support. Within a few short months, the Syracuse University Board of Trustees had chartered the University, secured the support of the city, and raised $500,000 in funding from various sources.

Holden Observatory and Crouse CollegeOn May 17, 1871, a little more than a year after the signing of the University charter, the Board of Trustees approved plans to build Syracuse University's first building, the Hall of Languages. They did not wait for the building's completion to begin educating students. In September of 1871, with the rented floors of the Myers Block building downtown serving as a temporary home, Syracuse University welcomed a class of just forty-one young men and women to its sole college, the College of Liberal Arts. The University's opening, though humble, was a success.

Following these humble beginnings, the story of Syracuse University would be one of remarkable growth and progress. The Hall of Languages was completed by the spring of 1873, making it the home of many of the expanding number of programs offered in the sciences, languages, and arts. 1873 also saw the appointment of the University's first official chancellor, Alexander Winchell. Economic problems in the University's earliest days caused Winchell to resign just a year later, allowing Erastus Haven to step in as the new chancellor. While Chancellor Haven's primary duty was keeping the young University afloat amidst rising financial difficulties, he also managed to improve existing academic programs and create new bonds between the University and its host city. Economic difficulties, both internal and nationwide, would continue into the early years of the administration of the next chancellor, Charles Sims, but by 1886, the University was ready to push forward with its first period of significant expansion. Between 1887 and 1892, under Sims' leadership, Syracuse University added an observatory, the impressive Crouse College of Fine Arts building, a library, and a gymnasium. By this point, the growing university encompassed the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Medicine, and the College of Fine Arts.

When Chancellor Sims was succeeded by Chancellor James Day in 1894, Syracuse University began one of the most transformative periods of its history. Chancellor Day took the administrative position with a vision of vast growth for the University, and he was able to realize that goal with the help of his close friend John D. Archbold. The wealthy director of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and president of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees, Archbold supplied the University with large donations to facilitate Day's plans for expansion.

Archbold StadiumChancellor Day helped introduce many new schools, including law, business, home economics, applied science, and education, among others. To accommodate the increased administrative needs of the rapidly evolving academic departments, Day restructured the University into thirteen academic divisions, a drastic increase over the University's three colleges established prior to his administrative term. With new academic disciplines to accommodate, and an ever-increasing number of students enrolling to study them, the University needed to build a number of new facilities during this period. Day, with great assistance from Archbold and other influential donors, oversaw the completion of twenty-two new University buildings, including several academic buildings, administrative buildings, a library, a second gymnasium, and a stadium.

Archbold Stadium, constructed in 1907 through the funding of its namesake, would be put to good use in the seventy-one years it stood. The large, Coliseum-inspired arena was a manifestation of Syracuse University's celebrated athletic tradition. Since the early 1880s, sports had been an increasingly popular facet of the campus experience at SU. As the number of students swelled under the Day administration, so too did the student passion for the teams that competed under the University's orange banner. Numerous other student activities also continued to develop during this period, including student publications, the marching band and other music clubs, and Greek organizations. Active and engaged students ensured that their extra-curricular activities were as enriching and varied as the ever-improving academic curricula.

With Archbold's death in 1916 and Chancellor Day's retirement in 1922, Syracuse University's first period of rapid growth came to a close. In the years that followed, the next chancellor, Charles Flint, worked to discover new ways to build upon the University's vision, until the Great Depression forced a more conservative approach to operations. Chancellor Flint successfully preserved the University's enticing academic offerings during the trying economic times, and Syracuse University's Depression-era enrollments did not see significant drops, as they did in other universities. Flint retired in 1936, leaving his vice chancellor, William Graham, to head the administration through the later years of the Great Depression. While Flint and Graham focused upon steadying the ship, their successor would seek to change its course.

Hall of LanguagesIn the fall of 1942, a time when millions of college-age Americans were joining the military to serve in World War II, Syracuse University alumnus William Tolley returned to his alma mater to serve as the new chancellor. Chancellor Tolley sought to make unique war-time considerations a top priority of his administration. He first worked to make Syracuse University a place that could prepare members of the military for service by helping to create specialized military training programs. Tolley's focus was not only on how Syracuse University could serve the war effort; he was also greatly concerned about how Syracuse University could serve those who would return home from war. He assured those entering the military that Syracuse University would provide them with educational assistance upon their return. Following the war, many returning veterans recognized Syracuse University as an especially welcoming institution. The University had one of the higher veteran enrollment numbers in the country, ranking seventeenth overall, despite its relatively small size at the time. By the late 1940s, military veteran students made up half of the University's swelling class sizes.

In order to truly expand and improve in the post-war years, Syracuse University had to do more than watch its enrollment numbers rise; it had to change its approach to education. By 1950, the University was committed to becoming a modern research institution that could make direct, valuable academic contributions to society. New research programs were created, research funding was drastically increased, specialized faculty members were newly recruited, and buildings to house and serve changing student needs were constructed during this time. The University not only improved its approach to scientific and academic research during this period of modernization, it also expanded its social role through the founding of the School of Social Work and the reorganization of the continuing education program to form University College. When Tolley retired as chancellor in 1969, he left a university that was far different than how he found it.

Yates CastleDuring those years, student life had also changed along with the University, as long-standing activities evolved, new organizations were created, and the campus became increasingly socially conscious. Athletics teams played more sports in better facilities to larger crowds. Students pursuing the arts made use of the new Lowe Art Center to respond to new experiments in form. The number of student publications swelled, allowing for a variety of new voices to be heard. Students had also been turning the campus' increased liveliness into political action. Throughout the late 1960s, SU students protested the Vietnam War and other issues, and this student unrest would reach its climax in 1970.

In the spring of that year, student activism was fueled both by both local and national conflicts. Accusations of racial discrimination practices in the SU football program led to player boycotts. In response to the Kent State shootings in May, Syracuse University students went on strike and effectively shut down the University, barricading all entrances to campus and staging a sit-in. A year prior, the University optimistically appointed John Corbally chancellor, hoping that he could rally the University around a positive, innovative new vision that would complement the spirit of its upcoming centennial celebration. Chancellor Corbally only oversaw an increasingly restless Syracuse University for eighteen months before he left to take an offer from another university.

In 1971, Melvin Eggers was named the University's new chancellor, and he was given the difficult task of improving relationships between students, faculty, and their university. Though such unification was neither easy nor immediate (library staff would go on strike just a few years after Eggers took office), he was able to help stabilize many of the problems that had been mounting. In addition to dissent on campus, the University had also seen enrollment drop in the years prior to its turbulent period. Eggers saw enrollments rise significantly over his twenty years as the University's chancellor, thanks in part to improvements to academic programs and the introduction of impressive new facilities, including new libraries, new arts buildings, and the famous Carrier Dome.

Syracuse fan with pennant and sealThe Carrier Dome, completed in 1980, would become the versatile new home to the football, basketball, track and field, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse teams. It was under the distinctive inflatable dome that the men’s basketball and lacrosse teams would have their rise to national prominence in the decades that followed. As the Orange athletes became more competitive and took up new sports, students responded with increased school spirit, making athletic events a central component of student life at SU.

By the 1990s, though some of the athletics programs were beginning to thrive, financial problems made it difficult to serve the declining number of students properly. Through difficult adjustments, Chancellor Kenneth Shaw helped stabilize the University and once more put it on a path of progress. In 2004, incoming Chancellor Nancy Cantor upheld the University's commitment to progress by working to improve the University's connection to its local and international communities.

Syracuse University began with a single building upon a hill, and it grew to a bustling campus that is integral to the city. It began with a few dozen local students studying one of a few programs in a rented classroom space, and it grew to include over 21,000 students from all over the world. It began with the vision of a few figures who valued the importance of a good education, and it grew to become the living vision of countless students, teachers, and staff who make the University what it is today.

Return to top

Scope and Content Note

The Syracuse University Postcard Collection contains approximately a thousand distinct postcards depicting Syracuse University buildings, students, events, and activities. These images, roughly dating from 1860 to 2004, are rendered in attractive illustrations and photographs. The illustrated cards are often quite colorful; some are awash with soft pastels, and others pop with loud primary colors. Most of the photographic postcards feature black and white photography or images that have been colorized from black and white photos. The more modern photographic postcards in the collection present crisp, colorful images.

Most of the postcards date from the early 1900s to the 1920s, and images of University buildings and grounds make up the large majority of the collection. Other series in this collection include postcards of University athletics, Greek organizations, traditions, and more. Some of these postcards remain unmailed and in their store-bought condition, while others were sent through the mail with messages that provide a look into the University experience of their time. Mailed postcards throughout the years feature correspondence between students, family, and friends, with words of encouragement, news from school and from home, and requests to send money.

Return to top


Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Return to top

Related Material

The Syracuse University Archives also holds an extensive Photograph Collection, which includes thousands of photographs of similar Syracuse University scenes and activities.

Return to top

Selected Search Terms


Syracuse University -- Buildngs.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University -- Sports.
Syracuse University -- Students.
Syracuse University.

Types of material

Photographic postcards.
Picture postcards.

Return to top

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Syracuse University Postcard Collection,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Many of the postcards in this collection have been generously donated over the years by Syracuse University alumni, faculty, and others with ties to the University. A large number of postcards, comprising two small boxes, were donated by David M. Green. Some postcards in this collection were purchased by the Archives.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Sean Molinaro
Date: 2013
Revision history:

Return to top


The items are arranged in alphabetical order within series.

Return to top


Box 1 Forestry, College of
Box 1 Medicine, College of
Box 1 Summer Sessions
 Sample image: SU Summer School, 1909
Activities and Organizations
Box 1 Dances
Box 1 University Band
Box 1 Reunions
Box 1 Bonfires
Box 1 Baseball
Box 1 Basketball
Box 1 Crew
Box 1 Football
Box 1 Swimming
Box 1 Tennis
Box 1 Track and Field
Box 1 Women's - Crew
 Sample image: Students in rowing tank
Buildings and Grounds
Box 1 Archbold Gym - Exteriors
Box 1 Archbold Gym - Interiors
Box 1 Archbold Stadium (Part 1 of 2)
 Sample image: Crowd cheering at Archbold Stadium
Box 2 Archbold Stadium (Part 2 of 2)
FC 2-1 Archbold Stadium - Oversize
Box 2 Book Store - Corner Store
Box 2 Bird Library
Box 3 Bowne Hall
Box 3 Campus Views (Part 1 of 2)
Box 4 Campus Views (Part 2 of 2)
 Sample image: Campus in winter
Box 4 Carnegie Library
Box 4 Carrier Dome
Box 5 Chancellor's House
Box 5 Cottages
Box 5 Crouse College - Exteriors
 Sample image: Crouse College at sunset
Box 5 Crouse College - Interiors
Box 5 Day Hall
Box 5 DellPlain Hall
Box 5 Drumlins Country Club
Box 5 Environmental Science and Forestry, College of
Box 5 Flint Hall
Box 5 Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center
Box 5 Graham Hall
Box 6 Hall of Languages
 Sample image
Box 6 Haven Hall - New
Box 6 Haven Hall - Old
Box 6 Hendricks Chapel
Box 6 Hinds Hall
Box 6 Holden Observatory
Box 6 Hoople Special Education Building
Box 6 Hospital of the Good Shepherd
Box 6 Huntington Beard Crouse Hall
Box 6 Huntington Hall
Box 6 Kimmel Hall
Box 6 Law, College of
Box 6 Lawrinson Hall
Box 6 Lowe Art Center
Box 6 Lyman Hall
Box 6 Machinery Hall
Box 6 Main Entrance
 Sample image: University Ave. from campus
Box 6 Manley Field House
Box 6 Marion Hall
Box 7 Maxwell Hall
Box 7 Medicine, College of
Box 7 Minnowbrook Conference Center
Box 7 Newhouse I
Box 7 Old Oval - Pre-stadium
Box 7 Orange Publishing Company
Box 7 Pinebrook Conference Center
Box 7 Power Plant
Box 7 Reid Hall
Box 7 Sagamore Conference Center
Box 7 Schine Student Center
Box 7 Shaw Hall
Box 7 Sims Hall
Box 7 Slocum Hall
Box 7 LC Smith Hall
Box 7 Steele Hall
Box 7 Tolley Administration Building
Box 7 University Block
 Sample image
Box 7 Watson Hall
Box 7 White Hall
Box 8 Winchell Hall
Box 8 Women's Building
Box 8 Women's Gymnasium
Box 8 Yates Castle
Box 8 Yates Castle - Bridge
Controversies and Problems
Box 8 Bleachers Collapse 1906
Genesee Wesleyan Seminary
Box 8 Seminary Hill
Greek Organizations
Box 8 Honoraries
Box 8 Social - Fraternities
Box 8 Social - Sororities
 Sample image: Horse-drawn buggies for Gamma Phi Beta Convention
Box 8 Novelty Illustrations and Photos
 Sample image: Syracuse student cheering
Special Events
Box 8 Commencement
Box 8 Moving Up Day
Box 9 Unidentified Groups
Syracuse City / Onondaga County
Box 9 Central New York
Box 9 The Dingle Man
Box 9 Syracuse
 Sample image: Clinton Square, circa 1908
Box 9 Thornden Park
Box 9 Walnut Park
Box 9 Buildings and Events
Box 9 May Day
Box 9 May Queen
Box 9 Rushes
 Sample image
Box 9 Seals and Pennants

Return to top