Jim Brooks Americana Collection

Cover Image:
Postcard of Orange County Driving Park, Goshen, NY
Orange County Driving Park, Goshen, NY

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The development and popularity of postcards as a quick and picturesque means of communications coincided with the grassroots expansion of the American-born sport of harness racing. While the origins of both the Standardbred breed of horses and the trotting sport took place in New York State and the greater Northeast, both harness racing and the use of postcards proved irresistible to a largely agrarian nation and spread quickly throughout the country. By 1900 some 870 active trotting racetracks could be found across America. During this same period picture postcards became an affordable yet visually compelling way of staying in touch with distant family, friends and business associates. So it is that the landscapes and activities of towns large and small - including trotting races - can be found commemorated among the vast array of vintage postcards preserved and collected by individuals and institutions.

Scope of Collection

The Jim Brooks Americana Collection postcards assemblage was conceived as a means of documenting the widespread popularity of harness racing events in the United States during the early 20th Century. During the creation of the collection particular attention was paid to trotting events at county and country fairs, many of which no longer exist or are nearly unrecognizable as the agricultural showcases that they once were. Many modern images of harness racing can also be found among this collection. Whenever possible, the messages written by the original senders have been digitized and when read in context within the collection may provide researchers further cultural insights.