One of the research techniques I use in gathering information about an ancestral hometown is to review the items up for auction with the online site of eBay. There can anything suddenly up for sale or bids that you would not have imagined ever existing. Featured could be personal letters, diaries, labeled photos, business letterheads, etc., just about anything is possible.
The most common items are postcards of hometowns, with its street scenes, businesses, churches and schools. However, you can come across a postcard actually written by an ancestor or one sent to any ancestor. Most sellers will have a photo of the back of the postcard, so you have to view all the images provided. You won’t always be able to tell just from the front of the postcard what hidden gem could be on the other side.
Besides looking for eBay treasures relating to my own family research I like to see what else is up for auction that might be important to another family. Where I can find a full name with a location and time period, I use that information to conduct a mini-research of that family. If I can locate a fellow researcher with ties to that family item on eBay I send them an email informing the person of this object up for auction. It proves to be a great method to reunite orphaned objects and getting them returned.
A recent example centered on a lone postcard dated July 17, 1915 from Colorado. It was an once elegant decorated postcard, now a bit age worn, with the simple embossed words; “To Greet You”. It was addressed to Mrs. Jennette Anderson of Nebraska. The following is what was written as a message to Mrs. Anderson.
How are you I am well Mamma is sick
When do you want to come out
and see me.
from Alger Swonson
So simple a message from a young boy to his grandmother, yet it speak volumes. For descendants of the Anderson or Swonson families this would be a wonderful heirloom. I have attempted several different search methods to locate any family members, but to no avail yet. The auction has long passed, yet I did keep a digital image of the front and back of this postcard in case one day the descendants are located. I know I would like it if someone did the same for me.
Photo: Scanned image of the front and back of the 1915 postcard.< Return To Blog