Picture Postcard History

I’ve never thrown away a picture postcard received by mail. They don’t arrive on a regular basis anymore but it’s a love affair that won’t fade away. And when I see display boxes of historic postcards at antique shows, or conference halls, I rarel…

I’ve never thrown away a picture postcard received by mail. They don’t arrive on a regular basis anymore but it’s a love affair that won’t fade away.  And when I see display boxes of historic postcards at antique shows, or conference halls, I rarely turn away — the dated images, the tinted colors – all so beautiful, not to mention the thrill of the hunt.  And now family history provides sharper focus to what was vague longing.

At the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) Conference exhibit hall in Knoxville last year, I picked up two postcards related to my research ….and I examine the images through ancestors’ eyes.  One is of a park in Texarkansas, the birthplace of my grandfather, Jesse C. Williams..

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and the other is of the business district of El Paso, Texas, in the 1940s, the town in the time of our parents’ courtship.

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I haven’t had a chance to expand on this collection policy but picture postcard history had already fallen into my lap. Here’s a postcard of the elementary school my father attended in what was then Woodlawn, Pennsylvania…

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And here’s his 1922-1923 class photographed in front of the school (it was probably Mom who helpfully put an “x” on his shirt)….

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A postcard of the Conservatory at Druid Hill Park, here in Baltimore (now known as the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory)…

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provides some context for this picture of my daughters on a 1988 visit, probably to see the annual Poinsettia Show.

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Baltimore City College (High School) is one of the oldest public schools in the country and the alma mater of my husband and oldest daughter.

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And, here again are my daughters in 2001, the school in the background, just after a soccer game in which the City senior played against her sister, a Poly freshman.

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Turns out that I’m a deltiologist – collector of postcards – and especially when I can connect it to other avid interests.

Interested in joining the hunt from home?  Here’s just one collection I know about at the University of Maryland – the National Trust Library Historic Postcards Collection.   Only a portion have been digitized so far, but you can search the finding aid here.  

1 thought on “Picture Postcard History”

  1. Yes, it was probably Mother who identified Daddy. Moo-Ma wouldn’t have bothered. All great postcards. I didn’t know you had the El Paso one: wonder if one of those buildings is the hospital where I was born.

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