Unearthing Local History & Scientific Samples

There are plenty of gems in our historic postcard collection, from views of old Falmouth industry to vacation spots that survive only in memory. Even among them, this 1984 membership postcard from the MBL is unusual! The front image of this postcard is an 1897 photograph of MBL students performing fieldwork at Quisset Harbor, and the woman in the center is Gertrude Stein. Her brother Leo holds a sample jar up beside her.

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) is best known as one of the central figures of the Lost Generation: an unconventional poet, writer, and artist who pushed the boundaries of her arts during the chaos of the World Wars. But before she became the Gertrude Stein the world remembers, she considered a career in medicine. In the summer of 1897 she came to Woods Hole to take an embryology course at the MBL. (Read more here!)

She never did receive her medical degree. Instead she left the United States for thirty years, and went on to publish, provide wartime medical aid, and befriend and inspire the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Henri Matisse, and James Joyce.

Between their pictures and messages, postcards unearth some unusual samples of history. Take a look at our collection and see what you can discover about Falmouth!

A Gertrude Stein reading sampler from FPL:

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein: Selections, edited by Joan Retallack
Gertrude Stein Has Arrived: The Homecoming of a Literary Legend, by Roy Morris


Postcards from Falmouth is made possible through a LSTA grant administered by the MBLC.