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Collection Description

The John and John Adams Postcard Collection documents over 100 years of history and communication. The collection includes almost 1000 postcards of San Diego County, over 4000 from California and over 200,000 cards from all over the world. The current scanned collection is just a fraction of the total collection which will continue to grow in SDSU Unbound.

After his retirement as Chairman of Humanities in 1968, Adams became part-time university archivist for San Diego State College. John and his wife Jane donated generously to the university. Their donations consisted of books, postcards, ephemera, and manuscripts.

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"Bad Water" 279.6 Ft. Below Sea Level, Death Valley National Monument, California
Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park is here represented on a linen postcard from a photograph by Burton Frasher, Sr. His number is in the upper left corner, D.V. 32, and his copyright notice in the lower right corner. The number OB-H1517 in the stampbox is the Curt Teich number that defines the year of manufacture. The top sign shown on the card claims that this geological feature is 279.6 feet below sea level, the "lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.", digital folder Box 005; Special Collections Box CA-2
"D" Street on a busy Day
Although the description on this hand-tinted picture postcard states that the photograph is of "'D' Street on a busy Day," D Street was renamed to Broadway in 1913. A group with a flag can be seen waiting to join from the right, around the corner. Crowds are gathered on each side of the street, with no streetcars on the tracks, and a parade group of people here displayed in yellow dress are shown marching up Broadway toward the top right. Motor cars and pedestrians are drawn up on the left, suggesting that this intersection is the beginning of the parade, with groups coming in from the right at bottom. The message section on the reverse of the card bears a seal of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The Curt Teich number on the back of the card is A-32767, decoded to the year 1913., [superimposed on photograph starting at top left] 4180. "D" Street on a busy Day, San Diego, Cal., Box 3; http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/76spring/izard.htm
"General Sherman" Big Tree in California
A sign has been tacked onto a very large and gnarled tree among smaller trees, giving it the name in the title. Naturalist James Wolverton had served under the general and named the tree in 1879. The publisher's number P 6 is on the divided back along with the phrase "Made in Germany.", Box 9; the year written on the back of a postcard for sale on eBay at http://www.ebay.com/itm/ca-1907-Postcard-Uncancelled-General-Sherman-Big-Tree-in-California-Ger-Lith-/271748027023?nma=true&si=i0UmITIWjr8D60K7AKxzCh%252F%252BOZc%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557 has been used instead of "circa," since the back is divided and the card therefore would not have been produced any earlier--seen 2/9/2015
"I've got to hand it to you", Byron Moore and "Koko" at San Diego Zoo
The caption on what appears to be a black-and-white photograph in the image portion of this picture postcard is "I've got to hand it to you," stating that keeper Byron Moore is with an animal named "Koko." Moore is holding a branch full of what look like berries so that what appears to be a chimpanzee (and not the famous signing gorilla named Koko) can eat the fruit. The chimpanzee is squatting on the ground, while Moore is down on one knee. According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources), in 2020 chimpanzees are classified as "endangered.", Box 2
"In All the World No Trip Like This", Hotel St. Catherine on the Ocean Front
The hotel is at the end of the pier where the steamships illustrated below dock. The motto "In All The World No Trip Like This" coupled with the flag marked with a "W" on the back denote the Wilmington Transportation Company. The illustration of the steamship on the bottom of the card would be of the Cabrillo, Hermosa, Avalon, or Catalina, engaged only in transporting passengers from San Pedro to Avalon or Two Harbors. Construction was begun on the Hotel St. Catherine in 1917 to replace Avalon's Metropole, destroyed by a catastrophic fire in 1915. By 1918 it was open for business, with its own harbor in Descanso Bay. The publisher's number on the back is 29297 N., digital folder Box 004; Box CA-1; http://users.erols.com/gayle/avalon.htm
"Meet me at the Zoo" - Balboa Park, San Diego
The inscription on the black-and-white image on this picture postcard is "'Meet me at the Zoo'--Balboa Park, San Diego." The San Diego Zoo was founded in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, in 1916. Sailors surround an elephant as it lies on its stomach, apparently in its enclosure, since two sailors are sitting on a fence, and fencing is visible on the other (right) side. Elephants are classified in 2020 as "vulnerable" by the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature)., Box 2
"Modeltown", America's Exposition, 1935
Natural color postcard of "Model Town," behind the Palace of Better Housing (visible in background in middle). These 56 miniature mechanized houses were built for the California Pacific Exposition of 1935 to illustrate how $2,000 loans from the Federal Housing Administration could convert rundown houses into beautiful homes. The Palace of Better Housing was previously the Commerce and Industries Building (1915), Canadian Building (1916), the Electric Building (1936), and later reconstructed as the Casa de Balboa. The Exposition was held in San Diego's Balboa Park., Box 1
"Montezuma," San Diego State College, San Diego 15, California
The creator of this picture postcard of Montezuma, Eric H. Gibian, describes the subject of the drawing as follows: Donal Hord's prize-winning diorite statue of Chieftain of the Aztec tribe. Sculptured 1937, holds court in northeast corner of Main Quad." Donal Hord (1902-1966) sculpted the Aztec for San Diego State College. It was originally located on the Main Quad (quadrangle behind Hepner Hall), and in 1984 moved to the south entrance of the college. Due to trolley construction, it was relocated in the Prospective Student Center., [printed in white border below frame of drawing] "Montezuma," San Diego State College, San Diego 15, California [signature of artist toward right bottom] E. H. Gibian. 1954., Box 3
"Our Boss"
The animal represented in this "Actual Photo" is labeled "Our Boss," but is a chimpanzee sitting and holding a lit cigar. The image is an actual photograph rather than a printed reproduction. The back of the card states that it was "finished in West Germany." The two numbers on the back of the card are ZA 50 A and (P189)., Box 2
"Out for a walk" at the California Alligator Farm, Los Angeles, Cal.
A man on the left pulls an alligator on a leash after him on a lawn. The Los Angeles Alligator Farm was an attraction from 1907 to 1984. It was at this location until 1953, when it moved to Buena Park. The publisher's number on the back is A 113. The slogan "On the Road of a Thousand Wonders" indicates that this may have been part of a promotion of The Coast Line-Shasta Route of the Southern Pacific Railroad, for which there are promotional booklets from 1907 and 1908., digital folder Box-006; CA-3
"Poppy Room", Maryland Hotel
The Maryland Hotel, built in 1913 as the Sefton Hotel, was designed by San Diego architect William Hebbard (1863-1930). It was constructed in the Gaslamp Quarter for San Diego banker Joseph W. Sefton, Jr. In 1916 it was renamed the Maryland Hotel, and meetings of the Ad Club were held there in 1919. In 1987 it was the last standing hotel designed by Hebbard, was for awhile a senior facility, but in 2006 the building was renovated to become the Ivy Hotel, then the Andaz San Diego (operated by Hyatt) in 2010. The original address of the hotel was 630 F Street, but the number has been reassigned to 600., [in yellow ink superimposed over photograph at bottom, reconstructed from similar postcard] "Poppy Room" Maryland Hotel San Diego California's Sunshine Seaport, Box 3; http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/87winter/hebbard.htm; http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/87winter/hebbarddesigns.htm; http://www.sandiegohistory.org/amero/notes-1919.htm; http://www.seniorhousingnet.com/seniorliving-detail/maryland-hotel_630-f-st_san-diego_ca_92101-515000?source=web; http://libraries.ucsd.edu/speccoll/DigitalArchives/f869_s22-m369-1916z/f869_s22-m369-1916z.pdf; http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2006_3rd/Jul06_IvyHotel.html; http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/12/ivy-hotel-join-hyatts-andaz-chain/?business; San Diego History Center photographs #5906 (1915) and 4234; Journal of San Diego History Winter 1987; v33 #1; Kathleen Flanigan; "William Sterling Hebbard"; UCSD Spec. Coll. brochure for Maryland Hotel (1916)