Volcano Awareness Month: Volcano Postcards

January is Volcano Awareness Month on the Island of Hawai‘i. The day “promotes the importance of understanding and respecting the volcanoes on which we live.” While all the islands of Hawaiʻi were formed by volcanic activity, Hawaiʻi Island was created by five major volcanoes: Mauna Kea (13,803 ft), Mauna Loa (13,679 ft), Hualalai (8,271 ft), Kaumu o Kaleihoʻohie (5,500 ft), and Kilauea (4091 ft).

Postal cards, small commercially printed cards, usually have a picture on one side and space for a short message on the other. In 1861, John P. Charlton received the first U.S. copyright for a postcard. Since then, they have been used for quick communication and collected as souvenirs. The U.S. government began selling postcards in 1873.

The featured postcards are from people intrigued by the wonders of Kilauea. These cards, from 1908 to 1969 represent just some of the hundreds of postcards and volcano related photographs preserved by the Lyman Museum. To see even more, the Archives is open for research by appointment. Learn more at https://lymanmuseum.org/archives/research-collection/.

“Crater of Kilauea Iki near the Volcano House, Hawaii.” This item was published by Hilo Drug Company, but hand tinted in Japan, ca. 1908. The handwritten note at the bottom of the card reads, “Next time we go to visit Madam Pele we’ll have an automobile road. Won’t that be fine?” The item was addressed to Albert K. B. Lyman, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Lyman was promoted to U.S. Brigadier General.
“Volcano of Kilauea, Hawaii.” The color-tinted postcard features four spectators getting a close view of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater during an eruption. The Hawaii and South Seas Curio Co. of Honolulu published the card. The handwritten note on verso shows it was sent from  Hilo on January 3, 1916 by Kathryn Isobel Lyman to Olander Hammond in Taylorsville, Illinois.
“Hot Hawaiian Welcome.” The cartoon illustration features a parachutist on top of his parachute falling into a volcano. Note the “Volcano Kapu.” The cartoonist’s company, written on the lower right, is Laszlo’s Honolulu Laughs. The Hungarian cartoonist, Laszlo Schwartz, created a series of cartoon images depicting U.S. Army and Navy soldiers stationed in Hawaiʻi during World War II, ca. 1941-1945.
The colorized postcard reads “Volcano of Kilauea, Hawaiian Islands.”  This souvenir card was collected by the Young family, who owned and operated the Ah Mai Store in Hilo.
“Dead End Highway – Devastation area – Hawaii.” Photo by Larry Witt. This 1969 postcard features Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The card notes, “Many visitors traditionally burn the edges of post cards on this hot lava before mailing.” The card was published by Distributors Ltd. in Honolulu.