NE Oregon Arts

Early Social Media


A Gathering Place for the Arts in Wallowa County

1907 – 1915 Postcards in Wallowa County
From the Edsel White Collection

 

Curated by David Weaver
Click Here to View Postcards with Accompanying Audio Descriptions

 

 

Christmas Greeting:
will write later.
From Addie F. Johnson
Native Oregonians
Christmas Greeting:
will write later.
From Addie F. Johnson
Train Depot
Hello Old Sacks
How is the boy
Well Mick I am doing it again
I am in the 14 Cavalry here and it is lots better than the old place
I have an easy job and I don’t haft to drill
Well Mick write soon
Your old friend
[Illegible]
Wallowa Lake Cavalry
Hello Old Sacks
How is the boy
Well Mick I am doing it again
I am in the 14 Cavalry here and it is lots better than the old place
I have an easy job and I don’t haft to drill
Well Mick write soon
Your old friend
[Illegible]
Wallowa Lake Cavalry
This is one of bridges that left with the high water.
Those objects on it aren’t men they are “lumberjacks.”
B’s is the second to the right, nice don’t it?
H.
Railroad Bridge
This is one of bridges that left with the high water.
Those objects on it aren’t men they are “lumberjacks.”
B’s is the second to the right, nice don’t it?
H.
Railroad Bridge
March 11, 1911
Dear Nephew Lowell
I will send you a card of me a plowing sod.
I will answer your letter before long, how is every thing over there and how is the weather over there and are you all well.
I am well but Hester and the baby aren’t very well.
From
L.H. Rambo
Plowing the Leap Country
March 11, 1911
Dear Nephew Lowell
I will send you a card of me a plowing sod.
I will answer your letter before long, how is every thing over there and how is the weather over there and are you all well.
I am well but Hester and the baby aren’t very well.
From
L.H. Rambo
Plowing the Leap Country
This is Glen Tulley with the bear killed by him and some others up at Sled Springs Ranger Station.
Some moose.
Have you got a U.S. Rifle club down there we have and I belong to it and believe me I am going to shoot squrrels next summer an can get a thousand 22 shells for 55₵.
We practice with a U.S. army rifle at a distance from 100 to 600 yds.
Shorty
Sled Springs
This is Glen Tulley with the bear killed by him and some others up at Sled Springs Ranger Station.
Some moose.
Have you got a U.S. Rifle club down there we have and I belong to it and believe me I am going to shoot squrrels next summer an can get a thousand 22 shells for 55₵.
We practice with a U.S. army rifle at a distance from 100 to 600 yds.
Shorty
Sled Springs
Dear Friends
Have had much to do this summer
Will write soon
Often think of you and Nate(?)
Forest fires very bad here
Can scarcely see but a short distance this morning
Mother Tuttle

Minam
Dear Friends
Have had much to do this summer
Will write soon
Often think of you and Nate(?)
Forest fires very bad here
Can scarcely see but a short distance this morning
Mother Tuttle

Minam
Hello Dody boy-
How are you getting along in school today.
We had a fine trip and got here Thursday at 4 o’ck P.M.
Toppy is a little lame yet.
Mamma is going up with Mabel and I will go up tomorrow.
I got the lumber and they have to plane some of it so won’t be shipped till Mon.
Be a good boy dear and Papa will bring you something.
From Papa
Wallowa
Hello Dody boy-
How are you getting along in school today.
We had a fine trip and got here Thursday at 4 o’ck P.M.
Toppy is a little lame yet.
Mamma is going up with Mabel and I will go up tomorrow.
I got the lumber and they have to plane some of it so won’t be shipped till Mon.
Be a good boy dear and Papa will bring you something.
From Papa
Wallowa
Dear Folks:
Got home safe and sound at 2:30 P.M.
Everything alright.
Ed feeling alright and Violet nearly so, rest well.
Frost last night.
Start the binder today.
Emma
Lostine
Dear Folks:
Got home safe and sound at 2:30 P.M.
Everything alright.
Ed feeling alright and Violet nearly so, rest well.
Frost last night.
Start the binder today.
Emma
Lostine
Dear Sister
How you and the children ben getting along
And how is Mother
And I hope none of you folks ben sick
I just barrely get around to do only half of the chores
Only one well person in the house that is dad Foster
I did not know what to send for a present and this is the picture of the country
Ask Mother about these Mountains
And this town went dry the first of the New Year
Good by by to all
From Brother to Sister Ethel
Wallowa
Dear Sister
How you and the children ben getting along
And how is Mother
And I hope none of you folks ben sick
I just barrely get around to do only half of the chores
Only one well person in the house that is dad Foster
I did not know what to send for a present and this is the picture of the country
Ask Mother about these Mountains
And this town went dry the first of the New Year
Good by by to all
From Brother to Sister Ethel
Wallowa
Will write to mother tomorrow & go rest way over to Snake River the next day.
Have everything O.K. & a party to take us
Ova D.
Imnaha
Will write to mother tomorrow & go rest way over to Snake River the next day.
Have everything O.K. & a party to take us
Ova D.
Imnaha
Hello Lillian,
I’ll c if u r I’ll c
if u b I’ll c if u r 2 ys for me. Who am I? x of course C!!!
If x + y = 5 & y = 4 you can easily see what x equals.
“Du bist nicht viel.” x = x = I C!!
FROM X
Camping at Wallowa Lake
Hello Lillian,
I’ll c if u r I’ll c
if u b I’ll c if u r 2 ys for me. Who am I? x of course C!!!
If x + y = 5 & y = 4 you can easily see what x equals.
“Du bist nicht viel.” x = x = I C!!
FROM X
Camping at Wallowa Lake
This is the Troy bridge
Flora, Oreg.
Jan. 9, 1912
Dear Nettie
I received your pretty card some time ago, but I was so far behind with work I put it off.
We are all well.
I hope you are.
its storming hard a real old Lost Prairie blizzard.
There was dance at Mr. Murrill’s last Friday night.
They had a fight.
We didn’t go.
Your friend
Carrie
Troy Bridge
This is the Troy bridge
Flora, Oreg.
Jan. 9, 1912
Dear Nettie
I received your pretty card some time ago, but I was so far behind with work I put it off.
We are all well.
I hope you are.
its storming hard a real old Lost Prairie blizzard.
There was dance at Mr. Murrill’s last Friday night.
They had a fight.
We didn’t go.
Your friend
Carrie
Troy Bridge
Dear Mother
We are having some fun.
May be back sooner can’t tell yet.
Train Depot
Dear Mother
We are having some fun.
May be back sooner can’t tell yet.
Train Depot
Well June,
I send you The Tiger or try to each month.
We played Lostine Basket Ball Wallowa 44 Lost. 21
We played Enterprise “ ” 34 Enter. 13
“ ” Cove “ ” 38 Cove 21
We have got a pretty good team.
Scott, Ralph, Jack, Stanley Shell and me are all first Team men.
The others you do not know.
Well June I hope these pictures please you.
Good by
Shorty
Hotel McCrea
Well June,
I send you The Tiger or try to each month.
We played Lostine Basket Ball Wallowa 44 Lost. 21
We played Enterprise “ ” 34 Enter. 13
“ ” Cove “ ” 38 Cove 21
We have got a pretty good team.
Scott, Ralph, Jack, Stanley Shell and me are all first Team men.
The others you do not know.
Well June I hope these pictures please you.
Good by
Shorty
Hotel McCrea
Imnaha, Ore,
Nov., 1909
Dear Sister:
Still among the living.
I got your letter when at Joseph, after I left Walla Walla.
Hence I did not know Bessie was there or I would of made her a call.
I thought she was in Portland.
I did not see Ragsdills either while there.
At present I am living in the canyons near Snake River.
Think I will be here all winter.
Tell Ronald hello for me.
Address: Imnaha, E.E.B
c/o: C.F. Graves
Mitchell Hotel
Imnaha, Ore,
Nov., 1909
Dear Sister:
Still among the living.
I got your letter when at Joseph, after I left Walla Walla.
Hence I did not know Bessie was there or I would of made her a call.
I thought she was in Portland.
I did not see Ragsdills either while there.
At present I am living in the canyons near Snake River.
Think I will be here all winter.
Tell Ronald hello for me.
Address: Imnaha, E.E.B
c/o: C.F. Graves
Mitchell Hotel
March 7, 1911
Joseph Ore
Dear Rolla and Huldah,
Dear little Ruby Boner dide today, with Scarlet fever.
Took sick Friday morning.
Will be burried tomorrow at 10.
Good by,
Pa and Ma
Joseph Bank
March 7, 1911
Joseph Ore
Dear Rolla and Huldah,
Dear little Ruby Boner dide today, with Scarlet fever.
Took sick Friday morning.
Will be burried tomorrow at 10.
Good by,
Pa and Ma
Joseph Bank
The Courthouse Received your card all O.K.
Was sorry you were sick hope you are better now
Have not seen the old man since he went to La Grande to get the (you know)
Ray & May are well off by this time
Kit went with Johnny to Spokane
Will right a letter soon
Lottie is here

U. T.
The Courthouse Received your card all O.K.
Was sorry you were sick hope you are better now
Have not seen the old man since he went to La Grande to get the (you know)
Ray & May are well off by this time
Kit went with Johnny to Spokane
Will right a letter soon
Lottie is here

U. T.
Enterprise, Ore
Aug. 21, 1916
Dear Willie
Come over and take as swim in the lake.
We live just 15 miles from the lake.
I went fishing one day and caught forty trout.
How is that?
I am feeling fine and intend to write to your mother soon.
With Love,
Bessie R. Pyles
Camping at Wallowa Lake
Enterprise, Ore
Aug. 21, 1916
Dear Willie
Come over and take as swim in the lake.
We live just 15 miles from the lake.
I went fishing one day and caught forty trout.
How is that?
I am feeling fine and intend to write to your mother soon.
With Love,
Bessie R. Pyles
Camping at Wallowa Lake
La Grande, Oreg
Oct. 25, ‘09
Dear Sadie-
I haven’t had time to write to any body since school started.
When you have geometry problems a yard long to do every night you don’t find time for much else.
I’m taking German now so you can write German all you want to, to me now.
I couldn’t find that class gem any place in the buggy if she did lose it there.
I think it would have lost out.
Well you coming over when Pa plays here next Sat.
I don’t know whether to have the nerve to ask you to answer soon or not but I guess you will any way.
Opal
Lavena
La Grande, Oreg
Oct. 25, ‘09
Dear Sadie-
I haven’t had time to write to any body since school started.
When you have geometry problems a yard long to do every night you don’t find time for much else.
I’m taking German now so you can write German all you want to, to me now.
I couldn’t find that class gem any place in the buggy if she did lose it there.
I think it would have lost out.
Well you coming over when Pa plays here next Sat.
I don’t know whether to have the nerve to ask you to answer soon or not but I guess you will any way.
Opal
Lavena
Package arrived all O.K.
Many thanks for kind remembrances-
Our twins & Mrs. Lincoln wish all a Happy New Year
From Your Bro
J.H.R.

Joseph Dec. 31 1907
Family Photo at the Lake
Package arrived all O.K.
Many thanks for kind remembrances-
Our twins & Mrs. Lincoln wish all a Happy New Year
From Your Bro
J.H.R.

Joseph Dec. 31 1907
Family Photo at the Lake
Translation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Exhibit

Before Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, there were photo post cards, America’s first great social media crush. Wallowa County, like the rest of the country, eagerly embraced the new technologies that made it easy for ordinary people to take a “snapshot” and have it printed on photographic paper with a pre-printed post card back.  They could then send their own personalized images along with a short note to anyone, anywhere in the world with an address. And a town name and state was all that was needed in the rural U.S.

This social media revolution was driven by the Eastman Kodak Company.  In 1888, Kodak developed the first camera pre-loaded with flexible film.  After the photographer had taken the pictures, he or she would send the entire camera back to the company for developing, and a few weeks later would receive the photographs in the mail.  While this made it easier for non-professionals to take pictures, the price of the cameras put it out of reach for many.

In 1900, Kodak introduced the Brownie camera.  It was lightweight, portable, inexpensive and easy to use, making photography available to amateurs (Kodak’s Brownie was a popular little cartoon sprite of the time intended to appeal to children).  In 1902, the company introduced Velox post card paper, and in 1904, the Kodak Brownie 3A, which was designed specifically for taking post card pictures.

The final development that drove this turn-of-the-century social media format was the divided post card back.  Prior to 1907, the back of the photo post card was strictly reserved for the address of the recipient.  The new 1907 regulations allowed for a message on one side of the card back and the address on the other side.  It was the ability to send a photograph with a personal note that really popularized this early social media phenomenon.

With these developments, regular folks (especially young people) began to “post” and take selfies in astounding numbers.  Bundles of photo post cards were often sent in one envelope to save on postage. The total number of post cards sent in the mail will never be known; the U.S. Postal Service estimated that nearly 1 billion were sent through the mail in 1913 alone—ten times the population at the time.

In Wallowa County, photo post cards before 1906 are rare, and still scarce in 1907.  It’s not until 1908 that the local boom for photo post cards really takes off.  Most of the pictures on post cards before that time are lithographic prints of photographs.

The ability of amateurs to produce their own photographs tended to cut into the already thin margins of professional photographers, many of whom supplemented their photo business with second jobs.  This was true of local professional photographers like Joseph Henry Romig, a Joseph photographer, and Hugh Davis of Enterprise.  Romig ran a combination barbershop and photo gallery, and Davis worked variously as the editor of the Flora Journal, as a carpenter and at farming and ranching.

During the “Golden Age” of the post card between 1907-1915, the distinction between professional and amateur photographers becomes blurrier.  Local photographers like Hiram Merry, a farmer who lived in the little community of Grouse near Troy, and Roy Edgmand, a school teacher who taught in many one-room schools in the county, seemed to identify themselves first as “farmer” and “teacher.”  The distinction may rest in whether a particular photographer advertised services or had an established studio.  And then there were those who were took photographs as a hobby, offering none of their output for sale, but whose work constitutes an important part of our historical record.  Frank Reavis of Enterprise is perhaps the premier local example of this.

In any case, the greatest portion of the historic photographic record we have of Wallowa County comes from photo post cards produced by professionals and amateurs during this time period. Many of the photographers remain unknown and un-credited.

In addition to the historic importance of the photographic images themselves, the notes written on the backs provide an interesting look into the lives of the people of the time.  By turns tragic, comic and mundane—the universal human need to stay connected and share lives with distant family members, friends and loved ones was as important then as it is now.

The images and words presented in this exhibit come from the important collection of Edsel White, whose love for Wallowa County, its people and its history has led to his amassing hundreds of photographs and documents that add immensely to what we know of our own story.  And, thanks to his generosity and willingness to share his passion with others, we’re enriched by being able to see something of our own lives through those who have gone before us.