The sending and receiving of postcards became a very popular activity for people around the globe beginning in the 1870s and especially by the late 1880s and into the 1910s. The postcards were not just sent while one was traveling, visiting other places, but also just as a method to share scenes of what their own hometown or region looked like. Photography had only come into its own by the 1860s and with using photos on postcards it became very simple to share an image with friends and family, just like today sending an email attachment.
So now a hundred plus years later, the ability to view some of the vintage postcards, whether they were addressed and sent or remained unused is a thrilling for a family historian. If you actually have old postcards received or sent by ancestors, the knowledge that you have a bit of your family history, saves for decades is a nice nostalgia item. If it is not written by a relative and just showcases the family hometown, business, church, neighborhood or school, that is just as good.
In the United Kingdom the first picture postcards were available in 1894. Prior to that the cards were either plain or had drawn illustrations. The biggest surge of sending postcards was between 1902 and 1917.
To locate digital images of vintage United Kingdom postcards the following three sites have thousands from every corner of England along with cards from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Names: DeCampe, Postcard Heaven and UK Old Postcards. These can be searched based on the county in England with a thumbnail image which can be enlarged. They also offer the original postcard for sale.
Another good sources and a large selection are on the auction site eBay. These on any given day can number in the hundreds of thousands.
When you do not have actually family photos of places and events surrounding your family life stories, the picture postcards make an excellent substitute. See how many you can start collecting, even if they are only in digital format.
Photo: Postcard of Cathedral of Manchester, England about 1907. Scene of my 2nd great grandparents’ wedding on August 11, 1852 and numerous babies’ baptisms.< Return To Blog