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Joy Postle Papers

Identifier: SC-066

Scope and Contents

Series I: Art, 1921-1988, Undated, contains examples of her work in a variety of media. Includes her pencil sketches, pen and ink illustrations, watercolors, color pencil, oil paintings, mixed media, watercolors with acrylic, block prints, offset prints, and murals.

Series II: Writing and Composition, 1944-1976, Undated, holds materials including her manuscripts "Glamour Birds", "Tar and Snow", "Haunted Trails of Great Smoky Mountains", "A Lamp Named Emmeline", "Secrets of the Everglades", and "Let's Paint Glamour Birds". Series also includes Joy's "Poetry and Prose" and Sheet Music.

Series III: Photographs, 1954-1982, Undated, divided into subseries, People, Places, Art Work, Animals, Murals, slides, and Negatives.

Series IV: Personal Files, 1910-2015, Undated, artworks created by others, biographical documents, correspondence, exhibits and performances, memorabilia, memorial, miscellaneous items, news clippings, publications, and sound recordings.


AS - Art Shelf

AR - Art Rack

FFD - Flat File Drawer

RM - Room


  • Created: 1910-2015


Conditions Governing Access

The entire collection is open for research, although framed paintings are in storage so may only be seen in photographs.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished records are protected by copyright. Permission to publish quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical or Historical Information

Joy Postle was a rare bird. She rather resembled the long-legged Florida birds featured in her paintings. A plein air artist (from a French expression meaning "in the open air"), Postle painted her subjects in their natural environment. Waiting patiently, often days, despite insects, reptiles, and weather extremes, she captured her subject using a variety of media including watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink.

Katherine Joy Postle, a Chicago, Illinois, native, studied music and art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduation in the 1920s, Postle moved to the Snake River Canyon area of Idaho establishing herself as an artist and interior decorator. In Idaho, she met her husband, journalist Robert Blackstone. The couple traveled throughout the West, Southwest, and South living in a modified Model-T Ford truck nicknamed Brownie House. Postle painted the surrounding landscapes selling her work as they traveled. Hotels, restaurants, banks, and private clients also commissioned her to design and paint murals, a popular decorating technique at the time. Blackstone served as her publicist and manager. Arriving in Florida in 1934, the couple continued their nomadic lifestyle until purchasing a small home on Lake Rose, near Orlando, in 1942.

In addition to painting and drawing, Postle wrote poetry; authored several books including Fine Feathers (1941), Glamour Birds of the Americas (1944), Drawing Animals (1953), and Drawing Birds (1963); and worked for the WPA Florida Art Project. Around 1937, Postle and Blackstone conceived "Glamour Birds," a unique entertainment show combining recorded bird songs and music with Postle singing, painting birds, and teaching her audience about wildlife and conservation. "Glamour Birds" was performed for local civic and women's organizations and private groups. Notable personalities who saw her perform included members of the DuPont family, Carl Sandburg, Albín Polasek, Guy Beatty, and Andre Smith.

Blackstone died in 1968 in a fire that destroyed their Lake Rose home. It took Postle two years to recover from the burns she suffered trying to save Blackstone. Of her husband, Postle said, "he rowed the boat," allowing her to be a fulltime artist. After her recovery, Postle continued to paint, perform, and teach. She died in 1989. Her ashes were spread on Lake Rose.

Postle's art was her life. Her work-with its detail, light, color, and humor mixed with fantasy-still captures the imagination of viewers, reminding people of nature in its unblemished form. The University of Central Florida Libraries Special Collections and University Archives' collection of books, manuscript material, and fine art by and about Joy Postle documents her work and her legacy as an artist, muralist, naturalist, poet, writer, and entertainer.


8.25 Linear Feet (10 Boxes, 95 Art Pieces, 13 Murals, 1 Easel)


Joy Postle was an artist best known for her murals and paintings of Florida wildlife, especially birds. These papers contain correspondence, news clippings, drawings, paintings, a scrapbook and many photographs documenting Joy Postle’s life and work. Most of the collection is devoted to her art in all its forms and images that she used for inspiration.

Arrangement Note

Most of these materials are examples of Postle's art and are arranged by format. The folder of documentation contains price lists, some calendar pages from the First National Bank in Stuart, which show part of her mural, and information about paintings loaned to the Loch Haven Art Center. Her "Glamour Birds" act is well illustrated by photocopies of sheet music and poetry that she used. Postle wrote most of the poetry herself; some of the prose describes her work and the rest appears to be semi-autobiographical fiction.

Manuscripts are artwork used in preparation of planned publications not all of which were ever published. Acrylic paintings show lampshade designs, underwater scenes, Florida scenes and birds. This collection indicates that Postle often used watercolor in her early work. Her watercolors document the places that she visited, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Idaho and the Smoky Mountains. Pencil sketches include portraits, birds, animals and Idaho. A portrait of Hermann Von Holst is titled, and one clearly shows Guy Beattie; however, the rest may show some people in photographs that have not been identified. Crayon drawings show unidentified landscapes. Oil Paintings show birds, flowers, pets, an orange tree, seascapes, a bell tower and Texas landscapes. One set of bird paintings is entitled "Rhapsody in Rose." Some of the oil paintings are framed and these include pets, birds and landscapes. These items are in storage, therefore, access will be by photographs only.

Pen and Ink drawings include Idaho landscapes, birds, nature, portraits, an example of the artist's signature and cartoons about cats. Some photocopies of the cartoons are also held in this series. In some cases, the artist's complete work may be seen from original pen and ink drawing through block prints to hand coloring producing a finished product for sale. These items are held in the Originals and Prints sub-series. Block prints without the supporting drawings are held separately and include birds, nature, cats and industrial scenes; some of these prints are hand colored. Box 9 and 10 contain spare copies of prints that are held elsewhere in the series. The "Secrets of the Everglades" folder was apparently a design for a folder intended to hold a collection of prints. Other examples of Postle's work include a notebook and a New Year's card.

Some of the best examples of Postle's work are her murals and these are well illustrated in the photographs. Other photographs show her work either as individual items, exhibitions, or during her performances of her "Glamour Birds" act. This sub-series is arranged by subject. Postle took many photographs that she used to create her art. These studies are also arranged by subject and many of the themes seen in the photographs appear in her paintings. She was commissioned to paint pets, and some of these photographs correspond to the oil paintings in the collection. Finally, her publications show that she not only wrote her own books, she also illustrated books written by others.

Titles in quotation marks are quoted from the art piece and are not an indication of a formal title.

Method of Acquisition

Denise Hall donated some of these materials to the University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Department in 2005. Other materials were purchased in 2006 (CFM2006_07) from Mike Caruso and 2008 (CFM2008_04) from John Goodlin and Gloria Ellis, and 2011 (CFM2011_04) from Judy Johnson. Additional materials were donated in 2013 (CFM2013_03) from Judy Johnson and in 2015 (CFM2015_10) from Pam Bennet.

Related Materials

Joy Postle's publications may be found in the university's online catalog.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nadeen Kiwan; finding aid prepared by Suphi Burak Ogreten. The materials were placed in pH neutral folders and boxes, and photographs were weeded to reduce the number of insignificant snapshots in the collection.


Joy Postle Papers
Nadeen Kiwan
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the UCF Special Collections Repository

Special Collections & University Archives
University of Central Florida Libraries
P.O. Box 162666
Orlando Florida 32816-2666 US
(407) 823-2576