The first souvenir books were sold at 19th century fairs and exhibitions and paved the way for single image picture postcards. These books featured a set of images folded like an accordion and sent through the mail. Like postcards, people could send these books to friends and family or keep them for their own collection.
Due to the souvenir book’s folding, it was often kept as a set rather than torn off and sent individually. Many souvenir books contained images on both sides so more sights could be shared. This format favored the visual over handwritten communication. The images highlighted points of interest, while others told a story in pictures. The selected images provided the receiver with an overall sense of the journey and its changing landscapes.
Postcards and souvenir books were produced for a variety of sights, special events, and to highlight disasters. They remain a reflection of American life.
The links shown below to the items displayed in this exhibit will open in PDF format in a separate window or tab. The documents are shown here in their entirety so the files do contain multiple pages.