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Blog > The Little Mail Carriers at the Porter County Museum!

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Some months ago, we received a message from Janna (aka revode) who told us about her visit to a wonderful postcard exhibition at the Porter County Museum in Indiana! Sadly, we couldn’t go there ourselves… but the cheeky Little Mail Carriers were happy to jump in and volunteer for a guided tour. 😍 Here is the report from their latest adventure!

The Little Mail Carriers standing in someone's hand, holding some letters to be delivered

Hello everyone! We have arrived at the Porter County Museum in Valparaiso, Indiana! We heard that the PoCo Muse has an exhibit with hundreds of postcards on display until January 7, 2024 so we decided to come check it out!

The Little Mail Carriers stand on a table, with a postcard in front of them. The card reads Happy Postcrossing

The Porter County Museum was founded in 1916 and has over 20,000 objects in their collection related to the history and culture of Porter County, Indiana. With so many objects in the collection they rotate through what is on display frequently in order to tell as many stories as possible. When we visited, the Robert Cain Gallery was featuring art from the museum’s collection, the Eunice Slagle Gallery had the exhibit “Connections: Take a Closer Look”, and the Montague/Urshel Gallery featured (the exhibit that we traveled here for) “Ever Yours: Postcards from the Golden Age”.

The Little Mail Carriers stand facing a museum wall with framed pictures

Before searching out the postcards, we explored the Robert Cain Gallery, admiring the work of many Porter County artists who worked to capture scenes from the area. The art in the Cain Gallery rotates out every three months, so that there are always new things to see.

A Little Mail Carrier stands in a museum hall, facing the exhibits which are set on glass domes.

Walking through the museum to get to the postcards, we had to journey through the “Connections” exhibit where seemingly different objects from the museum’s collection are paired together with a variety of connections between them. This concept allows for a wide range of objects to be on display. Did you know that there has been a Popcorn Festival in Valparaiso every September since 1979?

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of a small scale reproduction of a traditional barn from the USA, made out of wood

One of the first objects we came across in “Connections” was just our size! It is a scale model of the Maxwell/Remster Dairy Barn which was made by John Remster Sr. for his son John Remster Jr. in the 1950s. The barn can be opened up and played with and has been played with by every generation of the Remster family since its creation! Unfortunately, the barn it is modeled after no longer exists, though the milk house that was connected still stands.

A Little Mail Carrier stands in front of a museum exhibit showing a comic strip on a stand on the left, and a linocut print on the right, under a glass dome.

These two pieces are connected by being not the final product. The linocut block (right) shows the artist, Hazel Hannell’s home that was in Furnessville, IN. No prints made from this block are known to exist, though you never know what might be in someone’s attic. The “Brenda Starr Reporter” comic strip was written and illustrated by Dale Messick who lived in Ogden Dunes, IN and inserted many local and personal references into her strip. The comic is in the final stage when it comes to the artist but not for the reader who ultimately would have seen this in the newspaper.

A Little Mail Carrier looks out to a taxidermied dog across the room, resting underneath a glass dome

I swear that dog is watching us… 🤨

A Little Mail Carrier look on to a postmarking device, hanging from the museum ceiling

Check out this postmark stamp! It is from a town that no longer exists! The Tassinong Post office was founded the year after Porter County was founded in 1836, making it one of the earliest European settlements in the region. By 1884, almost all of the Porter County post offices were receiving their mail by rail, Tassinong was one of two still serviced by horseback. At the turn of the 20th century, when the Kankakee Marsh was being drained, the people of Tassinong refused to allow a proposed rail line to come to their town. The railroad, instead, bypassed the village and promoted a new town called Kouts. In 1903 the Tassinong post office was discontinued with all of the people relocating to somewhere serviced by rail.

The Little Mail Carriers stand atop a commode that also has on it a very old, very fancy cash register, with lots of colorful buttons and a cursive Get a Receipt sign across the top

Can you imagine checking someone out on this cash register? This is a nickel plate brass National Cash Register manufactured in 1914 sold to Wark’s Hardware in Valparaiso. The register worked perfectly at Wark’s until the early 1990s when someone broke into the store and broke the machine. Mr. Wark was not one to throw things away just because they didn’t work, so he disconnected one of the cash drawers from the machine and then it became a very large cash drawer until the store closed in the early 2000s.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of Daisy, a taxidermied dog. The snout is visible above them.

Turns out she WAS watching us! This is Daisy the taxidermied dog and her eyes follow you! She is 90 years young and belonged to Helen Slanger of Portage, IN. She has been in the museum’s collection since the 1970s and has become an unofficial icon of the museum.

The Little Mail Carriers look from the floor, up to a gigantic postcard reproduction, that is the start of the postcard-themed exhibition

After journeying through ‘Connections’, we finally made it to “Ever Yours: Postcards from the Golden Age” — the exhibition we had been looking for! I don’t think that that postcard will fit in a regular mail slot…

A Little Mail Carriers looks onto a panel, explaining the early history of postcards

Did you know that the first postcard was created in 1869!?

The Little Mail Carriers stand on a rail, in front of a vitrine showing old postcards

The PoCo Muse has over 2000 postcards in their collection. How did they narrow it down to the couple hundred on display? The wall of postcards that are behind us here were all received by one man, John Griffin, from Valparaiso, IN!

The Little Mail Carriers sit on wall posters and look at old postcards

Did you know that approximately 1 billion penny postcards were sent every year between 1907 and 1915?

The Little Mail Carriers look onto a museum exhibit of a particular postcard

All of these flip books have both sides of a historic postcard with transcriptions! This one is a real photo postcard showing Lila and Thaddeus Whitlock posing with their dog Maxie. Lila sent this to her daughter Olive who was studying Nursing in Iowa in 1912. It is nice to see that people have felt conflicted about their selfies from the beginning; “I was so engaged in trying to keep Maxie still, I forgot to look pleasant.”

The LMCs sit on top of one of the exhibits, comparing postcards to social media

The exhibit makes the comparison of postcards to social media of today. The message is public since there is no envelope, the amount of text is limited to the space available on the card, and it is accompanied by an image which might be compared to today’s use of memes. Just like social media today there was pushback to the use of postcards with detractors saying that postcards symbolize “the triumph of the commonplace.”

The Little Mail Carriers stand atop an album filled with old black and white postcards

This binder of postcards shows an individual’s collection of historic postcards that they loaned for the exhibit. In the early 20th century it was common to invite guests over and flip through your postcard collection. Similar to showing friends vacation photos.

The Little Mail Carriers stand on a table, among coloring pencils and booklets with printed old postcards to color

After reading all of those postcards it was nice to color some for ourselves. Plus once we are done coloring the booklet, it can be turned into a postcard — just tape it shut and add a stamp on the back! On the wall above, the many postcards sent to the museum are on display, which helps to show that postcards are still thriving today! Hurray! 🎉

Thank you to the wonderful team at the Porter County Museum, and especially Visitor Experience Manager Quinn, for opening their arms to the Little Mail Carriers and showing them around. If you’re in the area, the exhibition will be there until January 7th, so don’t miss it!

The little ones are back on their envelope and on their way to their next adventure… who knows where they’ll pop up!

33 comments so far

mezzanine2, Canada

Thank you for the informative article. This article reminds me of the value of visiting smaller communities for a vacation. They can sometimes have amenities that are worth patronizing.

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beesknees, United States of America

Loved the selfie comment! Excellent post.

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intrepidwife, United States of America

Loved the article!

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clara6201, United States of America

Just visited this exhibit and loved it!

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Indreni, United States of America

I just went through here a couple weeks ago on a road trip but had no idea! I'm also very curious about the huge collection of medical postcards housed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota!

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wambold, United States of America

Thanks for the fun article.

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debster, United States of America

Wow. This article was very interesting. I’m also feeling a tiny bit jealous of the Little Mail Carriers. 😜😜

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QueenBees, United States of America

Reading the latest adventure of the little mail carriers always brings a smile to my face. They are wonderful ambassadors . Do they have names ?

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anandamardeep, India

Thank you for this blog, it is insightful and opened many possibilities to understand Life as it happened! :)

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DianeM, United States of America

Hey Janna, Great blog article and photographs!

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jjmedusa, United States of America

Very interesting! And I wonder, does this museum have a gift shop? If so, I wonder what kinds of postcards they sell there!

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ryangray, United States of America

What country are those toys from?? I am a mailman and have quite a collection amassed, but don't have very many international toys... Thanks in advance!

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tazzini, United States of America

how cute, thanks for the info

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sannah82, United States of America

"I forgot to look pleasant" is from now on my standard comment on any picture taken of me ...

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Demmi, Romania

Indeed the selfie comments are lovely! Thanks for the virtual journey post.
#xmassiscoming

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myravern, United States of America

I wish I lived closer so that I could visit this exhibit…and It made me wish I had kept all the postcards I received and bought when I was a child in the 70’s. Thank you, Little Mail Carriers.

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wendyquilter, Canada

This looks like a very interesting museum and I wished I lived closer and could visit while the postcard exhibit was still on view. Thanks for the great article and photos.

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alison41, South Africa

A very interesting article. I didn't know postcards originated so far back, nor their early popularity.

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cerres, Estonia

🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗

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Toome2, Netherlands

Thank you for this great article. Since I cannot travel very far, it s nice to see the world like this...

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NIDUSKA, Finland

Thank You

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Yorkshire_Lad, United Kingdom

Many thanks for sharing this article, loved it.

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Ching6767, China

🍀loved the article🍀

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HannyD, Netherlands

I just love those old postcards. What a good idea to show them in a museum.

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Flippie, Canada

Thank you for sharing. I love the stories, Happy Christmas.

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AlohaJoe, United States of America

Wish I lived closer and would be able to visit this before the exhibit closes. I guess the tour you gave us will have to do for now. Thanks!

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vanialee, New Zealand

Wow, Thank you for sharing, it is great to learn something new.

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ned44440, Ireland

Loved this article and like so many others, I adore the wonderful selfie remark. I'll be using that - quite a lot.

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waydowneast, United States of America

Such a wonderful post with delightful pictures and very interesting info. Thank you!

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Mirfi, Australia

What a great place to visit!

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cenizo99, United States of America

Love the exhibit and the information about postcards. So many different kinds through the years.

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Leitmann, Israel

Lovely article! :)

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Riedele, Germany

thanks

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