Hallmark Cards and their Nebraska Roots

Read more about the Hall Brothers and the beginning of Hallmark in this Nebraska History Magazine article from 2008.

 

Joyce Hall in front of the Norfolk Book Store

Joyce Hall in front of the Norfolk Book Store


 

Looking back to his childhood years in David City, Nebraska, Joyce Hall wrote that his family’s life gave him the “gift of poverty”. With a who traveled constantly, a sickly mother, and a younger sister, Joyce and his two older brothers probably didn’t see poverty as much of a gift at the time. Later, however, he recalled it as “a tremendous spur” towards his future success. Nevertheless, the family’s situation urged Joyce and his two older brothers on.  


The three Hall brothers, Rollie, Will, and Joyce, combined their savings and experience to form a partnership called the Norfolk Post Card Company. Will Hall, who located in Norfolk in 1905 as part-owner and manager of a book and stationery store, provided the location for the postcard business from his store at 120 Norfolk Avenue. Rollie Hall, a traveling salesman, took on company sales as a sideline to his sales territory for an Omaha candy company. Joyce, the youngest brother, sorted cards and filled orders, leaving high school to join the postcard sales circuit. In 1910, eighteen-year-old Joyce went to Kansas City, where the enterprise evolved into greeting cards, the publication of engraved cards, and manufacturing of entire lines of cards. Joined by Rollie and Will, the business organized under the name “Hall Brothers,” now Hallmark Cards, Inc. By 1911, the Hall Book Store had begun selling “Christmas letters”, advertising them as “something new”. One ad called the “Neat dainty folders of beautiful Christmas sentiments and motos with envelopes to match. If you want to give something different come in and see these letters.”. 

A major setback came in 1915 when fire ravaged the Kansas City store, leaving brothers Rollie and Joyce $17,000 in debt. A piano company offered them space on the second story of its building, and despite their debt, they were able to purchase the engraving presses of the Smith-Pierce Engraving Company. They were now not only in the business of selling greeting cards, but also in the business of publishing them under the name “Hall Bros.” which was later changed to “Hallmark”. By then, the Norfolk operation had become the first branch of the growing business as a new building was constructed on the site of Hall’s Smoke House.

 

An early postcard published by the Norfolk Book Store around 1905.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Nebraska and the resettlement of displaced persons after World War II, part 2

Nebraska and the resettlement of displaced persons after World War II, part 2

Lending a Helping Hand: Social Settlement of Omaha

Lending a Helping Hand: Social Settlement of Omaha

Nebraska and the resettlement of displaced persons after World War II, part 1

Nebraska and the resettlement of displaced persons after World War II, part 1

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.