Christmas Cards from the Past

Christmas celebrations have been around for hundreds of years. They can be found all around the world, and differ from place to place. They range from fireworks, to parades, to concerts, to more personal celebrations such as family get-togethers. But what about those who you cannot physically be with during the holidays? How do you spread Christmas cheer and let them know you are thinking about them? If you said Christmas cards, you’re spot on!

The idea of sending Christmas cards is nothing new, and has persisted through the years. People from all over the world send out cards to those they can’t be with, and sometimes even to those they do see. Today, cards are often decorated with photographs of the family, and even include the family pets on occasion.

Here in Special Collections, we have an array of Christmas cards that have been sent throughout history. They all vary in style and sentiment, and some are even handmade.

Front of the letter

Robert Frost’s signature!

In the pictures above, you can see a Christmas letter designed by Henry Holt and Co. and signed by Robert Frost. The letter is actually an excerpt from “Mountain Intervals” written by Robert Frost. It can be found in our “Frost, Kohn collection” along with a Christmas card list from Robert Frost (not pictured).


Autumn to Winter

In the picture to the left, you can see the front of a Christmas card from our Alex Lykiard-Jean Rhys archive. The card shows two images of women, and display the words “Automne” and “Hiver”, French for autumn and winter. The inside contains a handwritten sentiment for a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Other collections such as the T.S. Eliot Papers, the Fred Graves Collection, and the Hopi Agency Archive also contain Christmas cards. To see these and dozens of others, please view our collections online at or come by and see us during our hours of operation, M-F 8:00-4:30. And don’t forget the annual Tulsa Christmas Parade this Saturday at 2pm downtown!

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