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Randolph Lytton historic Washington, D.C. postcards and photographs collection

Identifier: C0511

Scope and Content

The Randolph Lytton historic Washington, D.C. postcards and photographs collection consists of postcards, souvenir photographs, and stereographs featuring images of Washington, D.C., as well as one photo album of Washington, D.C, and one foldable postcard booklet of Arlington, Virginia. The materials in this collection were created from the early 1910s-1968.

The postcards in this collection include illustrations and photographs of aerial views of Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA, American Red Cross, American University, Anderson Home, Arlington Cemetery, Washington, D.C banks and Washington Auditorium, Blair House, Washington Bridges, Carnegie Library, City Hall, Constitution and Pennsylvania Ave, Continental Hall, Corcoran Art Gallery, Department of Agriculture, Engraving and Printing Bureau, Federal Reserve Building, Ford’s Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Library, Franciscan Monastery, Freer Art Gallery, Government Printing Office, Washington hotels, History and Technology Museum, Howard University, International Eastern Star Temple, Jackson Statue, Jefferson Statue, Library of Congress, Lincoln Memorial, Masonic Temple, Meridian Hill Park, Municipal Building, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, National Geographic Society and Editorial Offices, New National Museum, New Naval Observatory Dome, New Post Office Department, New War Department Building, Pan American Union, Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C., Pension Office, Post Office Department building, Public Health Service building, Railroad Retirement Building, Rock Creek Park, Scottish Rite Temple, Smithsonian Institution, Soldiers Home, State, War & Navy Building, Washington statues, the Supreme Court, Thomas Circle, U.S. Treasury, United States Courthouse, Union Station, United States Capital, United States Patent Office, Washington Airport, Washington College, Washington Mall, West Washington Market, Washington Monument postcards, and the White House. The majority of the postcards within the collection were created between the 1910s and the mid 1940s.

The souvenir photographs in this collection include assorted views of different areas throughout Washington, D.C. and one set of souvenir photographs of the 1938 New York World’s Fair. The stereoscopic photographs in this collection feature images and descriptions of different Washington, D.C. landmarks including the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania Ave., as well as scenery and monuments.


  • Creation: circa 1905-1968

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

Use Restrictions

All materials created before 1928 are in the public domain and have no known restrictions. The following statement applies to all other materials in the collection: The copyright and related rights status of this collection have not been evaluated (See

Historical Information

The United States Congress allowed for the private selling and mailing of postcards on February 27, 1861. However they did not become a preferred method of communication until 1907, when the U.S. government - alongside the Universal Postal Union - created a divider on the back of their postcards. This design allowed for customers to add a message on the left side of the postcard and the address on the right. This period lasted from 1907-1915 and is known as the “Golden Age of Postcards.” Following the Golden Age came the White Border Period (1915-1930) and the Linen Period (1930-1945). Both altered the design of postcards slightly by adding a border and providing a small description of the photograph to the side. Lastly, there was the Photochrom Period (1945-Present). Photocrom postcards were notably different from their past counterparts due to their pop in color and hyperrealistic imagery.

Souvenir photographs were small ready-to-buy photographs of different landmarks in a given area. They often came in packets of 20-25 depending on the area.

Stereographs were photographs used to create a three-dimensional image with the illusion of depth through a stereoscopic lens. Stereographs were used for educational and entertainment purposes throughout the late 19th century. Their relevance faded in the early 20th century after the postcard was introduced.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection includes postcards, souvenir photographs, and stereoscopic photographs of Washington, D.C. from 1900-1960s. There is also one photo album of Washington, D.C and one foldable postcard booklet of Arlington, Virginia.

Physical Location

R 71, C 1, S 6

Acquisition Information

Donated to SCRC by Randolph Lytton in August 2021.

Related Materials

The Special Collections Research Center also holds other collections containing historical postcards and photography of the Washington, D.C. area including the Robert Truax Washington, D.C. transportation collection, the Charles Baptie photograph collection, and Phil Teigen North American churches postcard collection.


"Postcard History." Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accessed August 31, 2023.

"Stereographs." American Antiquarian Society, Accessed August 31, 2023.

Thompson, Clive. "Stereographs Were the Original Virtual Reality" Smithsonian Magazine, October 2017.

Processing Information

Processing completed by Vilma Chicas Garcia in August 2023. Finding aid completed by Vilma Chicas Garcia in August 2023.

Guide to the Randolph Lytton historic Washington, D.C. postcards and photographs collection
Randolph Lytton historic Washington, D.C. postcards and photographs collection
Vilma Chicas Garcia
August 31, 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections Research Center Repository

Fenwick Library, MS2FL
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax Virginia 22030 United States
703-993-8911 (Fax)