The Lehigh Libraries, Special Collections, is grateful to Professor Scott Paul Gordon for loaning examples from his collection of postcards and for discussing the photographer and his work here.
Between 1907 and 1909, during a health-related “retirement” in Nazareth, PA, the Moravian minister D. Cornelius Meinert discovered a love of photography. He photographed many buildings, streets, and bridges in Nazareth and Bethlehem. This case features a selection from Meinert’s photography: images of Lehigh University, of Bethlehem, and of the Lehigh River.
Meinert printed many of his photographs as real photo postcards, each signed “D.C.M.” The golden age of real photo postcards was 1907 to 1918, when both professional and amateur photographers printed images directly to postcard stock. Some real photo postcards are unique images of a home or of family members, while others, produced in larger quantities, were sold in shops. It is impossible to know how many copies of each image D.C.M. produced, but many of his postcards are known today only by a single copy. Some of his postcards, which he numbered to create sets, were likely produced in larger quantities.
Meinert was born in Wisconsin in 1869. His father, a Moravian minister, strongly influenced his sons, three of whom became Moravian ministers themselves. Cornelius, as he was known, came to Bethlehem in 1886 to enter Moravian College. He enrolled in the Moravian Theological Seminary in 1890, was graduated and ordained two years later, and married Emily Virginia Smith in 1894. The couple had three children. Meinert served as a minister in several churches in Wisconsin before severe rheumatism led to his two-year “retirement” in Nazareth. After ministering to congregations in Indiana between 1909 and 1917, he returned to Bethlehem to lead its West Side Moravian congregation. He retired in 1941 and died in Bethlehem in 1953.
Though he took some photographs for Moravian College shortly after he returned to Bethlehem, Meinert seems to have given up his hobby of photography after he left Hope, Indiana, in 1913.