The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Rural Delivery

Rural Delivery

Real Photo Postcards from Central Pennsylvania, 1905–1935 Jody Blake, and Jeannette Lasansky
  • Copyright: 1996
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 11
  • Page Count: 136 pages
  • Illustrations: 216 color/20 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-01625-2
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-01626-9

Winner of the 1997 Award of Merit American Association for State and Local History

Rural Delivery revisits life in small-town America through examining photographs that were made into postcards in the early twentieth century. The book features more than two hundred photo postcards that re-create a time when Union County Pennsylvania, was prosperous, progressive, and growing, like many other small towns of the era.

With so-called corresponding photographs at the height of their popularity, neighboring towns competed with one another to have their best "souvenir views" available. The images, made by professional and amateur photographers alike, include impressive bird's-eye views of towns and close-ups of their bustling streets. Area residents are shown on the move—in trains, buggies, and cars, as well as at play—at Bucknell (then College) class rushes, picnics in the Narrows, or ballooning expeditions in Allenwood. Catastrophic events and patriotic celebrations are also shown in these rare visual documents, which rivaled newspapers for their timeliness. Views of scenic spots, artfully composed or dramatically lighted, advertise the photographer's skill and the region's pastoral beauty.

Art historian Jody Blake relates the photographic correspondence to technical, social, and artistic developments in the history of photography, while material cultural historian Jeannette Lasansky places the images on the postcards in the local historical context of Union County.

Most of the photographs have not been reproduced since being issued. Extensive captions cover issues ranging from photographic techniques to historical background to rarity. Documentary materials, such as diagrams from photographic manuals and excerpts from local newspapers, are also included. Grover Bierly, Nelson Caulkins, Urs. H. Eisenhauer, Edwin S. Heiser, Stephen B. Horton, Arthur R. Ishiguro, Ellen H. Shields, John C. Slear, and John D. Swanger are among twenty-six photographers whose biographies are included.

Jody Blake is Assistant Professor of Art History at Bucknell University. Jeannette Lasansky is Director of the Oral Traditions Project of the Union County Historical Society. She has written or edited fifteen books, including On the Cutting Edge: Textile Collectors, Collections, and Traditions (Oral Traditions Project, Union County Historical Society, 1994) and Willow, Oak, and Rye: Basket Traditions in Pennsylvania (Penn State, 1979).

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