Photographic Postcards

There is available a rich resource to add to any family history. Once you identified the hometowns of various family branches and during which time frame they lived there, start searching for photographic postcards of that town, county or region. Include any notable references to any outstanding features such as a large mountain, a river, a large lake, site of a historical event, birthplace of a famous person, or anything else that your ancestors may have been aware of relating to the town or region.

The concept of photographic postcards began in 1890 when the US Postal Service allowed the mailing of postcards. Previous to that they were sent in sealed envelopes only. The postcard by 1898 could be mailed for 1 cent whereas the letter rate was about 3 cents, making it more affordable to purchase postcards and mail them to family and friends, especially showing the town.

The biggest boom came during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, with a large variety of picture postcards which sold as souvenirs. People loved the scenes form the Fair, sharing the postcards with those who did not attend and keeping the postcards for future generations. Byt he beginning of the 20th century postcards of large cities, medium-sized towns and even small villages were produced. It was figured some 700 million postcards world-wide were mailed in 1908.

Also some of the great passenger ships of the 1900s and 1910s were done as postcards, that is another great item to add to the family history is you know which ship your ancestors traveled to American on.

The postcard stock was standard photo stock which was used as a tool to increase the photographer’s sales. You would get a formal portrait done to give to close friends or relatives and you could order the picture printed on postcards to share with distant friends and relatives. That cost only 1 cent to mail. Not all the postcards were photos rather some great artwork, equal to a photograph were done of events, places, etc. Those are equal to having for your family history collection.

Many people even kept postcards they saved or were sent. Frequently on the back is a brief message and the name & address of the recipient. The postmark has the date so you can learn where someone was living at the time. The sending and collecting of postcards started in the late 1880s, became very popular and continued into the early 1900s and through the 1920s.

Check out what is available on eBay. Place the name of the town or county in the search and see what comes up.

Photo: In 1907, the future U. S. 1 highway through the heart of the town of Stuart, FL. But this was Stuart back then plus the added comments by a visitor.

Related Blogs:

Vintage Postcards

Info on Old Postcards

Hometown Postcards

< Return To Blog Love postcards! I have a small collection.
Sara N Martin 21/03/21

Collect any you can find of your ancestors' hometown, even if you can only get a scanned copy.
alice 21/03/21

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