Curt Teich & Co.

Postcards of East Wilson.

The on-line guide to Newberry Library’s Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection features digitized versions of the geographical index to the company’s historical postcards. The index cards are arranged alphabetically by state and then town or other geographic entity. Here is the Wilson, N.C., card listing the four postcards with African-American subjects. Numbered in sequence, all were taken in 1923.

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 8.39.17 PM.png

A view of Saint John.

A gift from Samuel C. Lathan arrived in the mail recently:

It’s a Curt Teich & Company postcard depicting Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. Per the Guide to Dating Curt Teich Postcards, this one was issued in 1923, and was perhaps meant to commemorate the church building’s tenth anniversary.

Here’s a cleaned-up version:

Greetings.

This linen postcard depicts scenes from Wilson, including notable buildings, a tobacco auction, and three African-American fieldhands — all children — posing under the watchful eye of a white boss.

The Curt Teich & Co. card is undated, but in Historic Wilson in Vintage Postcards (2003), J. Robert Boykin III places it in the 1930s. He also identifies the farmer overseeing the children as C.D. West.

Update, 21 January 2021: Terry Royal West recently reached out to share information about the original photograph of the children. The photo was taken in the early 1930s on the farm of his great-great-grandfather Cullen D. West, who lived, in fact, on Highway 1058 near Faro and the ¬†Wayne/Green County line, rather than Wilson County. The man in the white shirt and hat was Charles Dollison West and the boys’ nicknames were Laney, Punch, and Sambo. Despite the actual location, the photo was used on the Wilson Chamber of Commerce annual calendar, supposedly because the tobacco leaves were so perfectly formed. The Chamber also used another image from West’s farm depicting cotton pickers and brazenly labeled “A Cotton Field in Wilson County.” Below, the original hand-tinted photo of the boys in the tobacco field, which measures about 16 inches by 20 inches, shared by Terry R. West.