Archive for Sunday School

Rally Day is on the way!

It’s September, which means that Rally Day will soon be here! I have a fondness for antique Rally Day and Sunday School postcards, so I’ll break my long silence by bringing out a few I’ve picked up in the past year.

Rally Day Invitation 1923 crop rsz

This Rally Day Invitation was addressed to “Master Francis Warnock” (does anyone still call little boys “Master?”) and postmarked September 22, 1923. The girl in the blue coat must be passing out the “Rally Day Herald,” given the message on the back.

Rally Day Herald 1923 back rsz adj

I believe this gentle scene is a companion to a Rally Day card with crystal radio headsets that I posted last year.


The next postcard in my ephemera haul was addressed to “Misses Elva and Florence Waggy” of Baltimore. I was quite taken with the juxtaposition of the Gothic-style cathedral and the man riding the red girder up into the sky. I’m not sure who the artist is, though I’ve seen at least one other Rally Day postcard with the same monogram (see the lower right corner).

Rally Day FEP building church crop rsz

Many work in many ways / some great edifice to raise…

Each to help — and none to shirk / Rally to the best of works!

Elva and Florence apparently stayed active in the Church of the Brethren long past this Rally Day. They would later be responsible for building Nettie Memorial Chapel on Upper Reeds Creek (near Franklin, WV) in honor of a woman who I believe was their sister, Nettie.

The last postcard I have to share with you was sent from the Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School in Frederick, MD. The historic Evangelical Lutheran Church, now over 275 years old, was a pioneer in the Sunday School Movement.

This card, sent in September 1916 is noteworthy for several reasons. You can see that the message on the back was printed especially for this occasion. Most churches would fill in the particulars of their location, date, and time on a pre-printed message.

The postcard itself is an embossed design by Ellen H. Clapsaddle, the most prolific postcard and greeting card artist of her day. It has a nostalgic feel for 1916 — looking back to the late 19th century, perhaps. The woman at right looks over her shoulder to where we must be standing, as if she wonders whether we’ll follow her into the church.

Rally Day 1916 crop rsz


Rally Day 1916 back crop alt rsz

All this speaks to a well-established and well-funded Sunday School at a church that in 1916 was already over 175 years old. I wonder about the 1:45 p.m. time. Perhaps morning worship was followed by a fellowship luncheon and then the big Rally Day assembly.

So many of these early Rally Day cards speak to me of a time when parades and rallies, revivals and chautauquas were a much bigger part of American life. A time when marching bands and fiery speeches were good entertainment and a source of inspiration. While sometimes the invitation is gentle, and the spirit is warm or humorous, often Rally Day postcards’ vision is grander than “back-to-school.” Then I sense the call for Christian folk to mobilize, to Rally! and pledge themselves to the work ahead.

Special Invitation

I’ve been looking at postcards again.

Here’s one sent by Mrs. Gridley in 1912



and a lovely, delicate drawing of children listening to a Rally Day greeting over crystal radio headsets.



And then I found this invitation to a youth group outing with Peter Max-inspired fireworks.





A few traces of the Church’s imagination and practice that happened to catch my eye.


Rally Day Doings

Whole Family Rally Day


Dont miss it Rally Day


The last in my series of vintage postcards: Rally Day invitations from the early 1900s, when birth control was illegal, and apparently no one worried about putting guns on a Sunday school advertisement.

“Special Exercises, singing, speaking, marching, etc.” A Rousing Rally indeed!

Happy Comradeship

Three more vintage postcards invite everyone to church: happy children, shy teens, and even those who fly in on Sunday mornings. (How convenient to have the runway so near the church!) Charming illustrations, full of light and affection.


Good landing place HiRes multi


Happy Commradeship2


Empty place 300ppi

Memo to the working girl

Working Girl 300ppi


I had some fun this week looking through vintage postcards. Wish I could read the shorthand on this one! I also wish I knew who the artist was. The composition and the use of color are terrific. Just look at the way the space is layered on a diagonal from the memo pad all the way back to the desk and typewriter. It’s a great example of commercial art reaching out to a specific audience, and it shows the Church pushing to stay current.

The printed message on the back reads:


Things seem not quite right when you are away. Hope to see you next Sunday. If there is any other reason that you cannot come, please let us hear from you.

Sincerely your friend



Thank Him

"Thank Him"  from Standard Bible Story Readers Book One by Lillie A. Faris, Illus by O.C. Stemler & Bess Bruce Cleveland. Standard Publishing Co.1925.

“Thank Him”
from Standard Bible Story Readers Book One by Lillie A. Faris, Illus by O.C. Stemler & Bess Bruce Cleveland. Standard Publishing Co.1925.

Thank Him

Thank God for all good things,
The birds and the flowers;
Thank Him for the daylight,
And for night’s quiet hours.

Thank Him for the bird-song,
The sun and the rain;
Thank Him for the fruit,
And the rich, golden grain.

Thank Him for our country,
Our dear homes so fair;
Thank Him for our loved ones,
And for kind, loving care.

The Story of God’s Love

This is my favorite Sunday School book of all time.  I liked it so much, I took it home and read it over and over again. I’ve hung onto it for over 40 years. It begins like this:

Did you know that the Bible is one story–the story of God’s love for people like you and me?

The stories in this book are from the Bible and are a part of that wonderful story. They are about people of long ago who knew God’s love and answered his call to come into his family and belong to him.

I’m not sure why I loved this book so much. I had other Bible story books at home–and I read them too–but they did not occupy the same place in my affections as The Story of God’s Love.

When I read it again as an adult, I recognize Grace McSpadden Overholser’s talent for writing dramatic narrative and conversation which captured my imagination. I’m sure Polly Bolian’s illustrations were important too because they conveyed character and emotion. (Bolian is a well-known illustrator of Nancy Drew books which I was also reading about this time.) And I see from the brief author’s biography at book’s end that “Susan Hiett, a seven-year-old friend from Memphis, Tennessee, read all the stories in this book while they were being written.”  Perhaps her efforts were the secret ingredient.

But honestly, I’m not sure that I can explain it, and I can’t be sure that you would have the same experience if you picked up a copy. All I know is that this book is part of the story of God’s love in my life. A curious thing.