Your ancestral hometown, where your grandparents grew up in, might look quite different today. Many former small towns have become large towns or cities by the 21st century. So what method can you get a true sense of what the community was like that your ancestors lived in?
One of the best ways is through vintage postcards, once the main form of sending greetings to friends and relatives. All antique fairs and shows have many dealers in vintage postcards. Make it a point to check with your own local antique stores and visit the shows when they are in the area. The good thing, you don’t have to go to the hometown area to find such postcards. Most dealers handle a wide range of postcards and keep them organized based on locations. So asking a dealer if they have any from a specific state-county and / or town just might yield a few.
The same is true for international postcards, those from European towns. Have the name and information with you and ask the dealer. Give the person your phone number in case they come across a card or two that fits what you need.
A great source of vintage postcards is the online auction site of eBay. Just place in the search box vintage postcards there can be easily over 420,000 available then. Plus the those those up for auction or a ‘buy now’ deal change all the time. Most dealers have their items on auction for about 7 days.
To narrow down the search, place ‘vintage postcards’ + the name of the hometown. My father was from Haverhill, Massachusetts and there were 117 postcards when searched for that town. There were postcards of schools, churches, main streets, Merrimac shoreline, city parks, city hall, post office, hospital and library. If you are fortunate there might a postcard of a street scene right where an ancestor had a business or house. It might not be listed on the card, but if you are familiar with street names where family lived will help. If you know of a factory or business an ancestor worked at, place that name in a search on eBay.
Most of the images for each eBay item is quite large for you to view. You can make a bid on the postcard or if it is a ”buy now”, purchase it for your family history documents.
Remember to keep checking, you never know what is out there.
Photos: Haverhill, MA school; Lynn, MA Library; Merrimac St in Haverhill and a street scene in Manchester, MD.
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