21    Jul 20133 comments

Old postcards: A family history resource

Cards with messages have been mailed since the creation of the postal service. Many of us have sent postcards to our loved ones from vacations or just a quick note to say hello.

A postcard is traditionally a rectangular piece of thick paper or cardboard intended for mailing without an envelope.

The earliest known picture postcard comes from the 19th century, hand-painted by writer Theodore Hook in 1840. In the US, John P. Carlton patented the postal card and produced the first commercial cards in 1861.

The earliest known picture postcard, posted in London to writer Theodore Hook in 1840

Over the course of the 19th century, postcards gained additional popularity among all social classes. They were a convenient, inexpensive and attractive means of correspondence.

Post cards began to depict images and became a great souvenir to share memories and stories with loved ones.

The period from the late 19th century to the end of WWI was known as a golden age for postcards.  How does this relate to genealogy and family history research?

Holiday Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse 25 Division Commander of Hesse and his brother Prince William on 6 - September 10, 1870, in REZONVILLE

Postcards were a useful tool to communicate messages during the war for soldiers, families and officials. An old postcard can provide a love story, share brave deeds of war or other historical information that adds color to the stories of our ancestors.

Other side of MyHeritage user Raymond Szychowski family postcards containing information on his family

Do you have any old postcards? Have you learned any new information about your family through them? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook, Google + and Twitter.

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I have been using postcards to try to pinpoint when my Grandmother came to the US. Looking at the latest postmark and the earliest mention of her in the US has given me a window of time in which I believe she had traveled in.
  2. this my uncle searching for comunication from England war time
  3. We saved some postcards (and letters) from my Great-Grandfather during WWII sent from northern Italy to his oldest son in Switzerland.
    We did learned a lot of information about this branch of our family.

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