Peabody Postcards

Old Peabody Museum, corner of Elm and High streets, New Haven


Begun in 1874 and demolished in 1917 to make way for Yale’s Harkness Quadrangle, the first Peabody Museum building was only the north wing of a proposed three-part structure.

Danziger and Berman, New Haven, Conn. Made in Germany. Postmarked 1909

Yale’s Tennis Courts

The courts occupied the ground where the Peabody Museum now stands, at the corner of Whitney Avenue and Sachem Street, from about 1910 until about 1922.

(Danziger and Berman,  New Haven, Conn.  Made in Germany.  Postmarked 1910)

The New Peabody Museum of Natural History

After seven unexpected years in storage because of delays caused by World War I, the collections began their move to the new building in the fall of 1924.   Opening day was January 1, 1926.


The telephone pole--which is still in the same spot--was artistically disguised or simply painted out in all the other views of the building in our postcard collection.

(Peabody Museum of Natural History, 1927)



Written on the reverse by “Mabel” to her husband in New Hampshire:

“This Museum is the most marvelous place I ever visited.  Went this A.M. & just dragged ourselves away. . .    Save this card for my book.”

(Postmarked 1934)

Peabody Museum

Note the “tree” “growing” out of the driveway (lower left corner) of the building across Whitney Avenue from the Museum.

(Harold Hahn Co., New Haven.  Postmarked 1929)

Peabody Museum in the 1940s

(The Meriden Gravure Company, Meriden, Conn., for the Peabody Museum)

Peabody Museum in the 1950s

(NATCO. Natural Color Cards Co., Ridgefield Park, N.J.)

Peabody Museum about 1970

This is the earliest card in our collection that shows the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in front of the Museum on Whitney Avenue.  It was planted in 1961 when it was about 10 feet tall.

(H. K. Barnett, Allison Park, Pa., for the Peabody Museum)

Great Hall

Among the first exhibits in the Great Hall were six miniature scenes of ancient life occupying cases that protruded from the walls (see the case in the middle of the photograph).  Only two were issued as postcards: Jurassic Dinosaurs and Cretaceous Dinosaurs.   All six were dismantled in 1966.

(Joseph F. Morsello, Phila.18, Pa., for the Peabody Museum; ca.1950s)

In this photograph (not a postcard, but included here for scale), Professor Richard Swann Lull and his assistant are putting the finishing touches to the Jurassic Dinosaurs in 1925.

Jurassic Dinosaurs
Great Hall                  

From another card by “Mabel,” written to her mother in New Hampshire:

“Having wonderful time.  Best of all. . .[was] today at this museum.  Imagine the sort of places we are visiting (See picture on reverse).”  

(Peabody Museum of Natural History, 1927.  Postmarked 1934)

Cretaceous Dinosaurs, Great Hall

This is the only color photograph in the Museum’s archives of any of the miniature scenes.                       

(Joseph F. Morsello, Phila. 18,  Pa., for the Peabody Museum; ca.1950s)

Greenland Eskimo

Hall of Man (first floor)

This scene, with a background painted by R. Bruce Horsfall in 1926, was the Museum’s first diorama.  It played a role in “Burns, Baby Burns,” a 1996 episode of the television series The Simpsons.  Covered up by other exhibits in the 1980s, it was dismantled in 1993.

(The Meriden Gravure Company, Meriden, Conn. for the Peabody Museum, 1951)

Plains Indian

Hall of Man (first floor)

When this figure was installed in 1941, a motorized turntable moved it slowly back and forth to the accompaniment of a recorded message in the Sioux language, followed by a song.   The sound effects, which could clearly be heard by the Museum staff in their second-floor offices, were short-lived.                                      

(H. K. Barnett, Allison Park, Pa. 15101, for the Peabody Museum; ca. 1970)

Texas Meteorite

(third-floor rotunda)

The original Mineral Hall filled the entire space now occupied by the Museum’s auditorium and the mineral section of the new Hall of Minerals, Earth, and Space.  The meteorites were displayed in the rotunda area at the top of the stairs, as they are now.

(Peabody Museum of Natural History, 1927)

Mountain Goats (white) and a Chamois

Hall of Mammals (first floor)

(The Meriden Gravure Company, Meriden, Conn., for the Peabody Museum, 1951)

Enemies of Game and Song Birds

Hall of Economic Zoology (third floor)

“Sharp-shinned, Pigeon, and Cooper’s Hawks capturing song birds; Crow, Starling and Red Squirrel stealing eggs; Cat raiding Robin’s nest; Fox and Weasel with their prey.”

(Peabody Museum of Natural History, 1927)


Hall of Mammals (first floor)

“Skeleton of the famous gorilla from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, with model of a gorilla and a photograph of Gargantua in life.”  This skeleton has reappeared in three unrelated temporary exhibitions since the first primate area of the Hall of Mammals, where it was originally displayed, was removed in the 1970s.

(The Meriden Gravure Company, Meriden, Conn., for the Peabody Museum, 1951)

Grotto in Bermuda Coral Reef

Hall of Invertebrates (first floor)

Although some of the animals in this display were made of glass, many were collected by Museum staff in Bermuda.  It was dismantled in 1993.

(Joseph F. Morsello, 7310 Germantown Ave., Phila. 19, Pa., for the Peabody Museum, 1953)

Cretaceous Reptiles

Great Hall

This postcard reproduces a painting by Rudolph F. Zallinger that hangs today in the Great Hall.  It is included here because the original art was altered by Zallinger in 1991 to reflect changes in paleontological thinking.   Note that the animal in the upper left-hand corner of the painting no longer appears as it did when the postcard was issued.

(H. K. Barnett, Allison Park, Pa. 15101, for the Peabody Museum, ca. 1970)