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James R. Tanis Collection of Church Postcards

Oct 9, 2020

The Digital Initiatives team is pleased to introduce a new digital collection into the Theological Commons, the James R. Tanis Collection of Church Postcards.

The collection contains over 20,000 postcards depicting church architecture across the United States. It was begun in the early 1900s by the young John Christian Tanis, father of James Robert Tanis, donor of the postcards to Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Donna Quick, Digital Production and Quality Assurance Specialist on the library's Digital Initiatives team, evaluated the churches represented on the thousands of postcards in this collection and then entered their title, location, denomination and any interesting notes into the item details for the Theological Commons.

Here's what she had to say about the collection:

This is a great resource for viewing the history and beauty of churches. Working with these postcards was like taking a long road trip across America. You can visit all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

I was amazed by how each church has its own personality. There are large, magnificent cathedrals and small one-room stone churches. Some can be found in the middle of busy cities and others sit alone on mountaintops. There are churches that have experienced earthquakes or floods and have come back to their previous glory.

One of my favorite churches was the Catholic-Protestant Church at Keystone, Nebraska [pictured at right]. It was a small one-room church with two altars and reversible pews for the different services.

Donna Quick, Digital Production and Quality Assurance Specialist