Spooky-ooky Greetings: Historical Halloween Cards from Chicago

My best friend, Jenny, and I met on October 31 almost four decades ago as toddlers in costumes. Our older siblings were marching the halls of the local elementary school for a Halloween parade that families were invited to attend.

For years, Jenny and I spent almost every Halloween together. As children we went trick-or-treating, as teens we danced and bobbed for apples at parties. Today we live in different cities, but we almost always remember to send each other a Halloween "anniversary" card.

I had never heard of anyone else sending Halloween greeting cards. It turns out, spooky and silly end-of-October greetings were popular once upon a time, especially before the prevalence of home telephones, when more folks sent greetings by mail. 

In 1908, the P.F. Volland Company opened at 58 E. Washington in Chicago. The publishing company launched a series of greeting cards, gift books, framable mottos and specialty envelopes, among numerous other kinds of stationery and printed goods. The Volland Collection in the Special Collections and Preservation Division at Harold Washington Library Center includes tens of thousands of greeting cards for all occasions including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween. 

It’s fun to look at these historical greeting cards and wonder which one Jenny would like best. This year, I think I'll dedicate the bunch to her and to all our childhood friends. Happy Halloween!

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