Local History: a Tribute to Postcards

Local History: a Tribute to Postcards

Covington History segment provided by local historical writer Ron Barthet. View Ron’s blog Tammany Family here.

Many of the historical photographs from 100 or so years ago we have today only because they were printed on postcards. Through the wonder of that new-fangled gadget, the camera (and the fascination that came with it) people suddenly felt in love with photographs of just about anything and everything in day-to-day life. 

Many of those photographs became postcards, showing street scenes, buildings, landmarks, people standing around, people doing stuff. And those postcards were a quick way to dash a note off to a friend and actually show them an image of where you were. Easier than taking a photograph yourself, postcards were appreciated for their convenience and used extensively.

Then came the postcard collectors and postcard albums. Almost every family had one, an album filled with postcards from friends, relatives, and those purchased by the family itself while travelling. I remember Louis Wagner having an excellent postcard album, and Elmer E. Lyon had one that was quite interesting. John Preble and Annette Couch also have great collections of postcards.

In 1976 Polly Morris wrote an article about the importance of family postcard albums, not only for the memories they invoked while looking through them, but for the historical record they provided. Here is the article. Click on the image below to enlarge the view of it. 

So here’s a tribute to picture postcards: records of past family travels and keepers of community historical views. Technology may make them obsolete, but for a time they were part of every vacation and tourist souvenir shop. You knew you were on vacation when you started revolving those picture postcard racks in Stucky’s.

Today, with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and the like, technology has obliterated the need for postcards. It’s not easy to even find a postcard rack in stores these days. But, no worry, historians of the future will have millions of digitized images to look through to find that picture of Boston Street in 2017.

Polly Morris joined the writing team at the Mandeville Banner in February of 1974.

Check out more great local history at Tammany Family.