Postcards have been a popular means of sending greetings for decades. They have not always been just for the tourists on vacation to write back home to say “Wish You Were Here!”. They have been very artistic and many were done also as photos of the people and places at a certain time. There was a time a person could even have a personal photo produced into multiple postcards so they could send them out to family and friends. I have an excellent example, one of my father in 1927 right after he enlisted in the U. S. Army. A photo was taken of him in his full military uniform standing near a group of brushes at the family home. He mailed that off to family and friends letting them know the new career he was about to begin.
Postcards were also very popular as an easy method to send out greetings for every holiday throughout the year. Humorous postcards were also sent just to help keep in touch via mail with friends back when postage was inexpensive.
This could be an area you need to check within your own family, see if there is a collection of postcards. It could be that the family has postcards of a family hometown, a favorite vacation spot, a military post a relative was stationed at, a school building, a business or store a relative owned or worked at, or even a home owned by the family. With the use of postcards so popular from the 1880s to 1950s, the possibilities of what is on a postcard are endless.
Also read the back of postcards. There could be the full address for a relative that you needed for your family history. In addition, another surname, say of a great aunt who married several times and you were missing the name of one of those husbands, there it could be on the back of a postcard.
A couple additional super locations to look for vintage postcards, especially those of hometowns, schools and businesses are on eBay. Just put in the search the hometown, state and a plus (+) sign with the word postcard or vintage postcard. Putting in ‘Springfield, Ill + vintage postcard’ on eBay produced some 92 cards, the oldest around 1912. Check back in a week and there will be a new set of postcards.
Another location is a hometown museum. Most will have a massive collection of postcards of their community; from businesses, street scenes, neighborhoods, special events to even individual families. Search on Google by placing the hometown, state + museum. Most have a web site explanation of what collections they have. If not enough information, usually contact information is provided.
So investigate and certainly add any postcard information to your family history.
The 1910 postcard above is the Groff House and fountain in Frederick, MD - my mother’s family home.