The Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries invite you to join us on Thursday, December 1 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Zoom for Postcards, Places, & Participation, presented by Lydia Pyne, Writer; Research Affiliate, Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas at Austin.

It’s easy to think of postcards as simply the souvenir stuff of holidays, travel, and tourism. (“Having a wonderful time, wish you were here!”) But postcards are personal. They connect people and geographies and have for the last 150 years. Historically, postcards’ innovation and significance lay in their ability to send and receive messages around the world easily and inexpensively; postcards were the building blocks of 19th-20th century social networks, requiring participation on the part of the sender and recipient. From enthusiasts to collectors, postcards are artifacts of a specific time, place, and network of exchange – curiosities that are not-quite-yet extinct even here in the 21st century.

Dr. Pyne will converse about her work with Scott Paul Gordon, Andrew W. Mellon Chair and Professor of English, Lehigh University.

The program will be followed by a Q&A session led by University Librarian Boaz Nadav-Manes. This event is free and open to the public.

Please register in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About the speaker

Lydia Pyne is a writer and historian, interested in the history of science and material culture. She is the author of five books including Postcards: The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Social Network (Reaktion, 2021). She has degrees in history and anthropology and a PhD in biology (history and philosophy of science) from Arizona State University. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Nautilus, Slate, History Today, Hyperallergic, and TIME, as well as Archaeology. Find her online at or on Twitter.

Sponsored by The Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries.