Valentine's of old - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Valentine's of old

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - We all know what the seasonal and holiday aisles at stores look like right now: decked out in pink, red, and white, and littered with candy and Valentine's Day cards. But what did Valentine's Day look like a hundred years ago?

Karen Mason, curator at the Iowa Women's Archives, showed us a collection of old cards and letters, riddled with messages of love.

"The oldest ones I could see here were about 1908 or 1909," said Mason.

And some of them set the standard for "cheesy."

"Some of them are quite amusing," said Mason, who discovered many of them. "Every now and then, when we're processing a new collection that's come in, or looking at a collection, we'll find Valentines."

Mason says it's interesting to look at these artifacts, because they show how Valentine's cards and letters have changed over the last century. Many are homemade, and hand-written.

"There's actually a copper Valentine that says, 'have a heart, please be my Valentine,' and shows a little dog. And the card that accompanied it said, 'to the sweetest sweetie pie in the whole world.'"

Many of these artifacts can be viewed at the University of Iowa's Digital Library. Librarian Jen Wolfe showed some of the pieces, which remind us that Valentine's Day has a dark side. For example, one poster features a heart and cherub, but upon closer inspection, it's a health warning from the U.S. Government, with a list of sexually-transmitted diseases to be aware of.

And one of Wolfe's favorites, a postcard that says, "'honey, my heart is afire,' but somebody wrote, 'but not for you.'"


To view some of these Valentine's of old, you can visit the UI Digital Library Services web site:

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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