Joyce C. Hall

Joyce C. Hall
Joyce C. Hall. Courtesy of the Missouri Valley Special Collections.

J.C. Hall’s story is a Kansas City legend. The young man arrived here from Nebraska with a box of postcards to sell. With good ideas, good luck, and hard work, his business grew to become Hallmark Cards, the world’s largest greeting card company.

Joyce Clyde Hall, who preferred to be called J.C., grew up quite poor in David City, Nebraska. His brothers ran a bookstore to support the family and Hall often worked there after school. The three Hall brothers invested their small savings in an enterprise to sell a line of postcards. Hall sold the cards on the road whenever he had a break from school. By the age of 17, he had saved $3500 and moved to Kansas City to try his luck here.

Working with his brother, Rollie, out of various downtown locations, J.C. Hall sold his postcards to several retail shops. The brothers borrowed heavily in the early years to keep the business going as the nation’s postcard craze began to subside.

Hall began carefully considering the product he was selling. He was unhappy with the lack of appeal of the cards—the art was inferior and the messages were not meaningful. Just before Christmas one year, a supplier notified the Hall brothers that their wholesale discount would be discontinued. The brothers purchased a small engraving shop and, for the first time, offered stores their own line of cards. With help from the Halls, the simple greeting card became a way to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and nearly every holiday imaginable.

The rest of the story is well known. Hallmark Cards, with its world headquarters at 25th Street and McGee Trafficway, grew to include Crown Center, a stunning hotel, shopping, office and retail complex. The company that now employs thousands has ventured into fields far removed from the greeting card industry. But most of all, Joyce Hall’s legacy has benefited many local organizations, especially the Kansas City Art Institute.

Acknowledgement: 

A previous version of this article appears on kchistory.org: http://kchistory.org/content/biography-joyce-c-hall-1891-1982-founder-ha...

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.