Views of Old Philadelphia:
The Brightbill Postcard Collection


The Brightbill Collection

George D. Brightbill was an employee of Temple University from 1969 to 1999. From 1990-1999, he held the position of Associate Archivist of Urban Archives at Samuel Paley Library.

Mr. Brightbill created this collection to serve as the foundation for a history of postcard publishing in Philadelphia. This history was never finished; when Mr. Brightbill retired from Temple University in 1999, the postcards were donated to the Library Company of Philadelphia. The majority of his work, carefully catalogued and stored, can still be found at the Library Company.

Mr. Brightbill's collection is organized into four series. The first series, arranged by subject, is the only one that is fully catalogued. Thus, it is the only one on which we can present detailed information. Information on the other three series, not inventoried here, may be found in the Series Description.

The second series contains a small group of real photo postcards (generally of individuals) produced by Philadelphia-area studios. The third series consists of pamphlets deailing with postcards, especially those in the first series. The fourth series consists of miscellaneous oversize postcards. These other three series are not fully catalogued in the inventory.

Along with the collection index and catalogue of Series I, and the Series Description, as well as appendices on Printer and Publisher Codes and Addresses and Printer and Publisher History.

A typical "Greetings from Philadelphia" postcard, with sketches of City Hall, the Sunken Gardens, the Washington Monument, the Statue of a Dying Lioness, and the Academy of Fine Arts, along with an attractive woman.

[more] [catalogue]


The Website

When using this, or any other, website, remember that you will encounter copyrighted material. Please be respectful.

We have selected and digitized a small number of postcards, in order to give you a better idea of what the collection actually looks like. In addition, we have attempted to create a guide to the elaborate codes and abreviations Mr. Brightbill used in this inventory. This guide opens in its own window; we suggest you keep it handy when perusing the catalogue.

This website presents a mere fraction of Mr. Brightbill's work, focusing on the most extensive part of his collection, series I. His original index to this series has been preserved. There are numerous examples in each of 172 index categories.

If you know what you are looking for, use your browser's find function to locate the appropriate index item. Each item will take you to a second browser window, featuring selected images, as well as Mr. Brightbill's archival records of all the postcards in that category.

If you are researching a more general topic, you may want to use the table below. Each of the links will take you to a list of related Brightbill index items. For example, Schools and Universities inlcudes index items like "Germantown - Schools" and "Girl's Normal School." The category Germantown also features "Germantown - Schools" and includes "Germantown - Buildings" as well.

The authors of this page deeply regret that we cannot presently provide you with a way to thoroughly search some of Mr. Brightbill's broader catagories. If you are seeking something very specific and cannot find it here, but suspect that his collection does indeed have what you need, we suggest contacting the Library Company.

Introduction to the Collection

Copyrights and Restrictions

Brightbill's Complete Index

Explanations of Brightbill's Catalog

Publisher Codes & Addresses

Printer & Publisher History

Sample Images

The broad subjects in the following table are derived from the Series I index. Each links to a list of Brightbill's index items. As with the complete index, each item is, in turn, linked to the corresponding portion of the inventory.

Fairmout Park (35 links)

Schools and Universities (17 links)

Businesses and Industries (10 links)

Hotels and Restaurants (12 links)

Houses of Worship (7 links)

Transportation (25 links)

Public Spaces (6 links)

Public Buildings (18 links)

Events (6 links)

Historic Places (18 links)

Miscellaneous Buildings (12 links)

Assorted Postcard Series (7 links)

Germantown (7 links)

Views of Philadelphia (2 links) updated by BMC july 7, 2000