This collection consists of postcards gathered by Dr. Victor A. Blenkle, a twentieth century physician. The postcards primarily concern geographical locations and landmarks in the United States and Western Europe, but also include materials from six other continents.
Scope and Contents:
The Blenkle Collection consists of 29 boxes of postcards, principally about geographical locations, landmarks, monuments and other buildings of interest around the world. The bulk of the cards are about the United States and Western Europe, but countries in 6 continents are represented. The earliest cards included date from the late 1880s and the latest card date from the mid-1970s. The cards are arranged in alphabetical order by state name, name of country, and then specific locations.
The collection is divided into four series:
Series 1 includes 16 boxes of cards about geographical locations within the United States. These cards are organized first by state in alphabetical order, secondly by city or place name (for example, Grand Canyon). Cities or locations with fewer than three postcards are arranged into general categories such as "Cities". Cards with no clear location are grouped by illustrated subject, such as "Winter Scenes."
Series 2 consists of 9 boxes of cards about places outside the United States. These cards are in alphabetical order by name Of country, and then by city, location or geographical name,also in alphabetical order. The names of countries are used as listed on the card. For example, most of the German cards appear to date from before the division into East and West Germany, consequently, the name is listed as Germany, with no regard for the location of a place between 1945 and 1990.
Series 3 consists of 4 boxes of cards organized by subject. These are the only cards without specific geographical locations.
Series 4 consists of 1 box of cards and letters written by Dr. Blenkle or what appear to be members of his family.
Divided into 3 series: (1) U.S.A., (2) Foreign (mostly Europe), (3) Subjects. Arranged geographically and alphabetically.
Biographical / Historical:
The Blenkle Collection of Postcards was collected by Dr. Victor A. Blenkle, who lived in New Jersey. Little was known about Dr. Blenkle until Ms. Lorraine Clemente, his great-niece, supplied biographical information in 2006. All relevant curators involved in this acquisition are now deceased. Through processing, some conclusions were reached based on evidence contained within the collection itself.
Victor A. Blenkle (born December 15, 1900; died April 15, 1978) was one of six children; his siblings were Ferdinand, Herbert, Albert, Helene, and Julius. His parents, Ferdinand and Bertha, probably emigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1890s (his father was born in 1871). Victor Blenkle practiced medicine in Teaneck, N.J., where he was affiliated with Holy Name Hospital; his wife's name was Elsie. Blenkle was active in medical organizations and was a founder of Family Practice of New Jersey. He served in both World Wars, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. Many of the postcards in this collection were from Blenkle's patients, as well as family members. (Ms. Lorraine Clemente, great-niece of Victor Blenkle, supplied biographical information in 2006.)
We do not know when Dr. Blenkle began collecting postcards, but cards sent to him or with what appears to be his handwriting begin in the 1920s. It seems as if Blenkle also either purchased or traded for collections that were originally owned by others. For example, within the overall Blenkle collection, there are three smaller groups of cards of earlier origin. Some of these include the earliest materials in the collection, dating from the late 1880s and 1890s. These three smaller groups include a group of cards sent to (and some sent by) a Reverend Leach in Noroton, Connecticut who was a Lutheran minister. He also apparently ran some kind of a Bible study by mail program and so received a number of cards from those interested in the Bible. Another group of cards sent to addresses in Elgin, Illinois and other related Midwestern locations by members of an extended family and some of their friends between about 1895 and 1910. A third set of cards includes smaller group of cards sent by a group of family and friends in Wisconsin, apparently centering on Milwaukee. All of these include messages written on front or back and postmarks.
Bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution by Victor A. Blankle in 1977.
The collection is open for research use.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The W. Atlee Burpee & Company records, dated circa 1873-1986, document the firm's business activities developing plant varieties and marketing and selling seeds. They include accounting records, seed trial records, seed contracts, sales records, inventories, office correspondence, seed catalogs, promotional and instructional materials, advertisements and advertising reports, contest letters, daybooks, photographs, reference materials, and other items relating to the company and some of its competitors.
Scope and Contents:
This collection documents W. Atlee Burpee & Co., a mail-order seed company based in Philadelphia, from its early beginnings in 1876 when its founder, W. Atlee Burpee, started in the agricultural business, to the 1970s when his son, David Burpee, sold the family's then-global company. The collection also includes personal papers of the Burpee family dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.
Business-related content in the collection consists of crop propagation and management records; company correspondence; administrative and personnel records; advertising files; legal papers; property records and plans; reports, studies, and technical data; notes and drafts; files on professional outreach activities and events; trade literature (published by both the Burpee company and a number of its competitors); and awards and certificates received by the company. Significant topics documented in these files include the development of notable flower and vegetable novelties introduced by the company; the impact of World Wars I and II on gardening and the global seed trade; advertising strategies, technology, and innovation; and David Burpee's involvement in the national floral emblem congressional debate.
The Burpee family papers consist of personal files unrelated to the company's business operations. This includes records generated by W. Atlee's father (David Burpee, 1827-1882) and grandfather (Washington L. Atlee, 1808-1878), as well as W. Atlee's wife, Blanche (1863-1948); David Burpee (1893-1980) and his wife, Lois (1912-1984); and W. Atlee Burpee II (1894-1966). There are genealogical surveys conducted on both the Atlee and Burpee families as well as clippings about family members. W. Atlee and David Burpee's series are the most extensive and cover their involvement with numerous clubs and societies such as the Canadian Society of Philadelphia, the Union League of Philadelphia, and, for David Burpee, his involvement with Pearl S. Buck's Welcome House charity. The series include personal correspondence; financial, accounting, and tax records; files generated during vacations; reference material; and will and estate papers.
The Burpee collection also has a large number of images related to the Burpee business and family in a variety of formats including photographs, film and glass plate negatives, and advertisement mock-ups. Other formats include architectural and site plans, original artwork for advertisements, films, cassettes, audio tapes, and ephemera.
Collection is arranged into six series:
Series 1: Plant/Farm Related Material
Series 2: Business Records
Series 3: Material Published About the Burpee Company
Series 4: Awards and Certificates
Series 5: Photographic and A/V Materials
Series 6: Burpee Family Papers
Biographical / Historical:
Washington Atlee Burpee (1858-1915) began a mail-order poultry and livestock business in 1876 in Philadelpia, which he soon expanded to include corn seed for chicken feed. In 1878, he founded W. Atlee Burpee & Co., the primary focus of which was to sell vegetable, fruit, and flower seeds through the mail. This company would go on to become one of the most notable seed distributors in the United States.
By 1888, Burpee's family home, Fordhook Farms, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was established as an experimental farm to test and evaluate new varieties of vegetables and flowers, and to produce seeds. Burpee spent many summers traveling throughout the United States and Europe, visiting farms and searching for the best flowers and vegetables; certain plants he found were shipped to Fordhook Farms for testing. Plants that survived were bred with healthier specimens to produce heartier hybrids that were more resistant to disease. Other Burpee trial gardens were established in Lompoc, California and near Swedesboro, New Jersey.
Burpee's son David took over the family business upon his father's death in 1915. At that time, the Burpee Company had 300 employees and was the largest mail order seed company in the world. It distributed over one million catalogs a year and received as many as 10,000 orders a day. In response to food shortages caused by World War I, the Burpee Company helped promote a "war gardens" campaign that evolved into a "victory gardens" campaign during World War II. Both were aimed at city dwellers and instructed them on how to grow vegetables for their own consumption to aid in the war effort.
Sometime in the 1930s, the Burpee Company entered into a business relationship with the James Vick's Company of Rochester, New York. In 1947, Burpee purchased the assets of and rights to the use of the name of the Wm. Henry Maule Co. In 1970, Burpee was sold to General Foods; the corporate headquarters moved from Philadelphia to Warminster, Pennsylvania in 1974. David Burpee remained a consultant for the company until his death in 1981. In 1991, the Burpee Company was acquired by George J. Ball, Inc.
Burpee seed catalogs donated to the Smithsonian in 1982 by the W. Atlee Burpee Company can be found in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Branch Library Trade Literature Collection.
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: email@example.com.
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.