Postcards: the problematic bastard children of photo archives. But in addition to being welcome sources of color and commentary in the black & white world of “authentic” photographs—helping to punch up drab exhibits along the way—they can also be good starting points for research.
Or, as in the case of B.J. Rosewater, an unsung Jewish father of Eureka Springs, postcards can be little visual markers of a history largely absent from the records.
I used two postcards (items 3386 and 3387, Postcard Collection, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville) to link Rosewater’s story to an overview of Jewishness in Arkansas:
These postcards depict two important civic structures built in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the early twentieth century: a Carnegie public library and a new post office. B.J. Rosewater was a leading citizen of Eureka Springs for more than five decades after moving to the city in the early 1880s.
Rosewater led the city’s successful campaign to receive financing from the Andrew Carnegie Fund to establish a public library, for which he was named President of the Board for life. He was also director of the Interstate Summer Normal and Educational Assembly, led efforts to improve the Basin Springs area, was elected Post Master, overseeing the construction of the city’s Post Office building, and was a founding member of the Commercial Club, which later became the city’s Chamber of Commerce. Rosewater’s Jewish heritage was used against him in his campaign for Post Master. He was elected in spite of the anti-Semitism of his opposition, and left indelible contributions to his adopted city.