Tampa Postcard History shares stories you may not know

Without attending a lecture or cracking open a textbook, there’s a new way for you to learn more about and share Tampa’s history, including information about African Americans who made a difference in our community.

Check out Tampa History Postcards, a creation of Gloria Jean Stories, a small business that includes Gloria Jean Books, Gloria Jean Gifts, and Gloria Jean Talks -- promoting the stories and history of Tampa that few of us know. 

Valuing inclusion, the postcard line is diverse and unique, covering Tampa’s history in a fun and accessible way. It’s a way to share Tampa pride while discovering something new. 

“Did you know there was a statue of John Lennon in Downtown Tampa? We tell you why and where,” asks Founder Gloria Jean Royster. “Did you know the Reverend Billy Graham began preaching on Fortune Street in Uptown Tampa/North Downtown? Did you know that Fortune Street was named for distinguished African American women?”  

The postcards summarize that history for easy accessibility. Each postcard sells for $3 and includes an envelope and a chip card backing. Six cards sell in a set for $15 and include one free card; and a set of all 22 designs retail for $60 and include two free cards.
Currently Royster is selling directly to consumers at community and special promotional events. In October, she was at Supernatural Food & Wine on East Polk Street in Tampa for the “Supernatural Saturday” event hosted by Camp Conversation. In September, she was at DOLCE Café + Marketplace in Park Tower in Downtown Tampa. Guests get the chance to stop by for some lunch, learn something new, meet other people interested in history, and get their postcards signed.

Royster and her partners are working on a website so potential customers can browse and purchase online and send the postcards to friends and family living around the world and thus transmitting a snippet of important Tampa history along the way.

“After moving here eight years ago, I noticed that I could find little to no tourist gifts about African Americans or African American history. I decided to bring those histories and stories more to life,” Royster says. “I love telling stories. I am not a historian or an academic, but I can put together a story. I have been telling stories since childhood.” 

Currently working on a children’s and adult book about a postcard subject, Royster has also just completed a fictional children’s book that takes place in Tampa and has some elements of Tampa history. She has also published a children’s book called “GO! In the Snow,” where she pays homage to African American explorer, Matthew Henson, in part of the storyline. 

She hopes that people will continue to be shocked with a smile as they learn something new and that visitors will come to Tampa, not only for the sports, parades, and entertainment, but also for its rich history. 

Using some of the money from her federal stimulus checks to launch her business and postcard line, she’s grateful for everyone who has consulted and/or supported her company since April. Receiving free, monthly consultation through Entrepreneur Services, Economic Development Department of Hillsborough County, she’s continued to solidify and grow Gloria Jean Stories. In the future she plans to offer companion booklets with every postcard and create walking tours around the subjects. This will help take steps to the ultimate goal of having a live/workplace big enough for a gift shop and small museum. 

“There was no rhyme or reason to our first 22 designs/postcards. I just sat down at my computer six months ago and started creating whatever popped in my head,” Royster says. “I thought of a subject. Next, I found an image. … Then, I would research the text or story to be placed on the mail side.” 

Mary E. James, a descendant of Tampa pioneers, assisted with text. Darnell Pulphus, a graphic artist she worked with at a Chicago magazine, preps the postcards for print production. And Sol Davis Printing brings the postcards to life. She shares that there will be more diversity, women, and designs to come to the postcard line. 

“With Gloria Jean Stories, I get to do everything I absolutely love,” Royster says. “I plan to put Tampa’s unique history of diversity on the map. I believe in Tampa’s unique potential to be America’s heart.” 

For more information, including where Royster will be selling her postcards next, check out her social media pages:
IG: @gloriajeanstories 

Facebook Page: @refininghistory

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Read more articles by Lauren Wong.

Lauren Wong is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in journalism who is freelancing while she looks for a full-time job. Originally from the Chicago area, she enjoys travel and aspires to be a travel photojournalist. During the summer of 2019, she worked for Premier Travel Media in Chicago and as a correspondent for Input Fort Wayne, another Issue Media group online magazine based in Indiana. She loves spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, and taking pictures.