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Charles D. Vail postcard albums, 1904-1905

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-48

Scope and Contents

A collection of 8 postcard albums from Ireland, Scotland, England, Austria, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, India, Penang, Singapore, China, Japan, France, Switzerland, Honolulu, and various places in the United States. Collected by Charles D. Vail during his travels from 1904-1905.


  • Creation: 1904-1905


Biographical Note

Chales Delamater Vail was born in Goshen, NY in 1837 to Jacob Arnot Vail and Halia Ann (Smith) Vail. He attended Hobart College from 1855-1859. He was a member Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society at Hobart. He was the first recipient of the White Essay Prize awarded to the student with the best essay during the year. After graduation he taught for several years at both Seneca Falls and Geneva High Schools.

He recieved an M.A. from Hobart in 1862, and started his career at Hobart College in 1869 as a tutor. In 1872 he joined the faculty when he became Horace White Professor of English and Rhetoric and Elocution and the English Language and Literature. He soon became also Registrar and Librarian. He served as instructor in elocution until 1902, Registrar until 1903, and Librarian until 1909.

One of Professor Vail's greatest contributions to the college was the building up of the library. When he first took charge, the library was in the old Middle Building which burned in 1885 while Demarest Memorial Library was under construction. During his tenure as librarian the collection grew from some 15,000 volumes when he started to 70,000 by the time of his death.

He also pioneered concepts of what we now consider a modern English Department. He, along with close colleagues at Columbia College, Yale, and others in England "believed that the English language and literature should be taught with the same ideals and objects as had long inspired instruction in Greek and Latin. The idea was a new one..." (Hobart Herald editorial by Professor Turk, August 1, 1921)

Professor Vail had many interests outside of his college work. He took an interest in vocal music and in local history and antiquities. He was a trustee of the Amercian Scenic and Historic Preservation Society and had charge of the Watkins Glen Reservation. He revised an edition of A Narrative of the life of Mary Jemison: The White Woman of the Genessee which was printed by the society. He was a corresponding member of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, a member of the American Civic Association and the National Municipal League.

He was also a member of various clubs, including the University Club of New York, The Alpha Delta Phi Club of New York, the Genessee Valley Club of Rochester, the Ausable Lake and Mountain Club, the Kanadasaga Club, and the Country Club of Geneva.

Professor Vail was twice married. His first wife was Mary Louise Clarke, of New Haven, Conn., who died in 1874. In 1901 he married Helen Hall Houghton, of Corning, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Hall, an honorary Hobart alumnus, and widow of the late Charles Frederick Houghton. His son Louis Matinborough Vail from his first marriage graduated from Hobart College in 1894. Vail died at the Health Home in Canandaigua on July 24, 1921 at the age of 84.


2 Linear Feet (8 albums in 2 boxes)

Language of Materials



Box 1: Archives Storage, Range 22B, Section 6

Box 2: Archives Storage, Range 22A, Section 6


The donor and date of donation are unknown.

Genre / Form


Charles D. Vail postcard albums, 1904-1905: A Finding Aid
Martha Clark and Katie Lamontagne, Archivist
September 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Archives and Special Collections Repository

Warren Hunting Smith Library
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva New York 14456 U.S.A. US (United States)