Disaster Postcards – Nick Wylie

I wanted to post some of my collection of Barack Obama as Anti-Christ…

(read list the end of the post to know)

…but Olivia Ciummo thought that these morbid old postcards I found were funnier…

Below are some of the better images I found of postcards with photographs of major disasters on them. I have scattered in some contemporary ones, of hurricanes & 9/11, but mostly they come from late 19th/early 20th century disasters. I have included a mini-collection of the disaster I found most interesting, the Eastland Disaster, along with some info, please find it about 2/3 through the post.

Describing as they do the early fascination with the immediate dissemination of photographic disaster images, these postcards show the appeal of the abject and its sway on early 20th Century American imagination. That these cards mostly date from before there was a widely distributed print newsmedia, can be conflated with ideas of early “indy media,” and the conceptual repercussions thereof on ideas of democratic information systems, though it may be a stretch.

Consider a non-top-down, organic, mail driven way of hearing about even such media-loved major events as floods or mine disasters. Mine disaster coverage might actually be interesting if it came from your great uncle and not a blond in a blazer. Would you get a postcard about the missing white girl ten states away? Would you hear paid-to-mislead apologists for an unjust war nightly? OK, so they were ignorant then, too, and the luddite answer is an idiotic 18 year old anarchist one. But uh, why didn’t they make postcards for the crazy arrests in St. Paul? More people might have heard about them? Maybe you don’t have to be luddite about it. What about just one descriptive line with a nice image of something terrible that happened “in the news,” in the form of spam that you could auto forward etc…

stamps’re like 50c now or something crazy…  sorry stamp collectors…

So actually, we’re on a blog here, and blogs are the true future of democracy, so never mind about the above. I bet these postcards historically served more as, “look, relatives, my town/train/ship is underwater/derailed/..underwater, send me money.”

without further empty rambling late night ado….

steamer overturned 1905
\Disaster at Barrow Colliery
minnie pit mine

minnie pit mine

relatives wait after dudley mine disaster 1898

Funeral Procession, Gretna Green Disaster

aftermath of 1944 cleveland natural gas disaster

aftermath of 1944 cleveland natural gas disaster

CA Oil wells on fire

CA Oil wells on fire

Cherry Mine Disaster

chillicothe ohio flood disaster ewing st
chillicothe ohio flood disaster ewing st
coombs pit 1893 139 miners

coombs pit 1893, 139 miners

denver colorado capitol hill flood disaster

denver colorado capitol hill flood disaster

Hayward, WI flood, root-beer-stand

Hayward, WI flood, root-beer-stand

ohastab bridge disaster

ohastab bridge disaster

norton hill collierly disaster

norton hill collierly disaster

Monett Missouri train wreck

Monett Missouri train wreck

miami, FL hurricane

Miami, FL hurricane

louisville ky kentucky downtown flood

Louisville, KY, downtown flood

Steamer Gypsy sept 25 1905

9/11 Postcards


eastland disaster

Eastland Disaster

The single largest loss of life due to any one event, caused by man or nature, in 20th century US goings on happened in our fair city! And it happened on the way to a picnic! AND it capsized due to new lifeboat regulations enacted after the Titanic disaster!

a section of the wikipedia entry:

“On the fateful morning, passengers began boarding the Eastland on the south bank of the Chicago River between Clark and LaSalle Streets around 6.30 a.m., and by 7:10, the ship had reached its capacity of 2752 passengers. The ship was packed, with many passengers standing on the open upper decks, and began to list slightly to the port side (away from the wharf). The crew attempted to stabilize the ship by admitting water to its ballast tanks, but to little avail. Sometime in the next 15 minutes, perhaps owing to a passing canoe race on the river side of the ship, a number of passengers rushed to the port side, and at 7:28, the Eastland lurched sharply to port and then rolled completely onto its side, coming to rest on the river bottom, which was only 20 feet below the surface. Many other passengers had already moved belowdecks on this relatively cool and damp morning to warm up before the departure. Consequently, hundreds were trapped inside by the water and the sudden rollover; others were crushed by heavy furniture, including pianos, bookcases, and tables. Although the ship was only 20 feet from the wharf, and in spite of the quick response by the crew of a nearby vessel, the Kenosha, which came alongside the hull to allow those stranded on the capsized vessel to leap to safety, a total of 841 passengers and four crew members died in the disaster. Many were young women and children.

Writer Jack Woodford witnessed the disaster and gave a first-hand account to the Herald and Examiner, a Chicago newspaper. In his autobiography, Woodford writes:

“And then movement caught my eye. I looked across the river. As I watched in disoriented stupefaction a steamer large as an ocean liner slowly turned over on its side as though it were a whale going to take a nap. I didn’t believe a huge steamer had done this before my eyes, lashed to a dock, in perfectly calm water, in excellent weather, with no explosion, no fire, nothing. I thought I had gone crazy.”

Many of the bodies were taken to a cold storage warehouse in the vicinity, which has since been transformed into Harpo Studios, the sound stage for The Oprah Winfrey Show.[1]

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OPRAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(oprah’s name used to be Orpah)


(also check out the brief account of the potato/fireman mutiny!!)

eastland disaster2

eastland disaster2

more morbid early photo @ my friend’s project:http://mourningphotography.com/

eastland 4
eastland 4

eastland 5

eastland 6

eastland 6

eastland funeral

eastland funeral

eastland funeral 2

eastland funeral 2

so… re: Obama,

If you don’t know, now you know…..

1.- He will come as a man of Peace (Obama promises peace in Iraq, defeat for the United States,a country he claims to serve.)
2.- He will come mounted on a white Female horse(Obama mother is white who had 12 African husbands and lovers)
3.- He will come to deceive( Obama says he’s a Christian but in fact he was born a Muslim, practices the Islamic religion, prays Friday’s facing Mecca)
4.- He will make himself the most powerful man on earth, if elected, Mabus will be his name.
5.- He will try to destroy the Jewish People and Israel( Obama has said he loves Arabs specially Palestinians, hates Israel and Jews. Admires Hitler, Osama etc)
6.- He will present himself as good and righteous but in fact he’s Satan himself. Violence and Murder is in his heart
7.- Obama will help Iran and Al Qaida in their evil projects.
8.- Barack Hussein Obama is the “King of the South” predicted in the Bible.(Daniel .11, Kenya is south of Jerusalem)
9.- Obama comes to implant muslim Sharia Law upon America.
10.- Obama will enslave American women forever with Sharia Law.
11.-Mabus will finish his term on 2012,predicted to be the end of the world.
11.- Mabus will use Mind Control to obtain control of the ignorant masses, only those who read this note will be free from his mental hold.
12.-Mabus has come to destroy the finest country in the world, America. Mabus has come to steal your soul and your children’s souls.
13.- It’s written and will come to pass, Mabus will try to destroy the world with nuclear weapons but his first attack will be against Israel and the Jewish people. The beast 666 hates G-d’s chosen people.
Obama is the Anti-Christ, beware of him and don’t let you be deceived by Him.
Supporters of Obama: 1.5 billion Muslims, Oprah, Louis Farrakanh, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and all American Muslims.
This time is your turn to suffer America, the next 4 years will be pure hell if Mabus becomes your King.

6 responses to “Disaster Postcards – Nick Wylie

  1. An energetic, if sometimes hard to follow, posting!

    It would have been helpful to break this up into three separate posts for greater ease of reading (one for Obama, one for Disaster cards, and one for the Eastland disaster).

    It is hard to tell from the photo but do you know if the 9/11 cards actually depict the “Disaster” or are they just postcards of the World Trade Center or of paintings and other kinds of images that commemorate it? They aren’t selling postcards of the planes crashing into the towers are they?!

    Also, are the Eastland images all postcards, or are just some of them postcards? A bit hard to follow – though a fascinating piece of local history. Cold body storage at Oprah’s studio? Wow.

    As for the Disaster postcards themselves, this is a compelling phenomena and you’ve collected a strong array of examples to point to the range of incidents covered and how they are depicted. There seems to be a cut off when people stopped depicting the disasters so explicitly. Any idea when this might have been?

  2. Marc, if you click the image of WTC postcard rack you get a much better view. Those postcards absolutely depict the towers under attack and the New York skyline, those images so vividly broadcast around the world that day.

    Deltiology is not without its fanatics and scholars. For a good look at some literature on the subject, try http://www.postal-history.com/allbook.postcard.html

    And I do think that postcards as indymedia is a bit of a stretch. A cursory examination of Jim Mehrer’s literature description shows that at least some books [The Birth and Development of American Postcards. (Dr. Daniel Friedman/2003)] list postcards by publisher, which lends evidence to the assertion that capital investment was key to the printing process in this period. And also don’t forget that photography itself was not widely available until the cheap Instamatics of the 1960s. I think instead, we can draw the conclusion that these items do portray a fascinating look at social history, and are very collectible.

  3. Oops – I overlooked that the 9/11 image (and others posted here) are enlargeable. Thanks!

    (Still getting used to the blog format myself).

  4. Right, yeah, some of the 9/11 cards are of the disaster. As far as I can tell, there is no specific point at which there’s a shift between more graphic depictions and less. In fact, it doesn’t seem that the graphic ones are older/more recent than the others, can’t find a correlation anyway.

    The Eastland disaster images are supposedly all post cards. I can’t say for sure because the sources were online, but they all claimed that they were from postcards. It follows, from Randall’s point that few people had cameras, and from the consistent aspect ratios, that folks weren’t lying.

    My indymedia comment was a bit frivolous, and I recognize that the cards were produced for profit. However, I was thinking more of the fact that postcard text would be personalized. I guess the analog would be an article written in conjunction with an Associated Press photograph. That the message wasn’t pre-set was what, that you’d get the news from a direct, non-media source interested me. The association with alternative contemporary methods of info dissemination was largely a thought experiment…

  5. oops, it was andrew who mentioned the lack of amateur photo at the time, sorry!

  6. Pingback: HERE WE GO AGAIN #2: Wrecked Passenger Ships of the Last Century « TIME/IMAGE

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