Postcards Tell a Story – From Lowell and Elsewhere

A note in today’s Globe about a vintage postcard exhibit at the Boston Public Library, reminded me of the value of post cards as historical and cultural documents.  While this exhibit focuses on early 2oth century Boston, the millions of cards in the hands of private collectors and in local historical societies and libraries have opened a door on the past. Images of pastoral and recreational scenes, cemeteries and gardens hold sway along with those of municipal buildings, bridges, schools, train depots, hotels, street scenes, waterways and much more. Some cards even have multiple images alongs with catchy greetings – all wanting to bring a touch of an area visited to home and family. According to the Globe article, Americans mailed more than 677 million postcards in 1908 alone. Many cards of traditional American scenes  were made  in Germany back then. Lowell collectors know that’s why the sand-colored stone of Lowell Tech buildings often appear red-brick in color post cards. The German artists must have thought all buildings were like mill buildings!

I wonder what the historical “post card” resource will be for the early 21st Century. Do we even use postcards these days? What role could “Facebook-ing” greetings and images play? I don’t want to see  post card usage become so passe that they disappear!

The Lowell Historical Society has published two post card books that are windows into a past time. Check out these publications here:

4 Responses to Postcards Tell a Story – From Lowell and Elsewhere

  1. JoeS says:

    Instead of paying money to an outside company to market the city with slogans, what if the city put some of that money toward a photo contest, and then take the better entries and create free postcards to be distributed to visitors at various venues in Lowell.

    Getting these post cards sent back to their friends and relatives could create additional visits to this fine city. Maybe we could even hire a local company to produce the post cards, rather than always buying things from outside.

  2. John Quealey says:

    Frank Ryan has a great post card collection he lives in Ayers City which was part of Sacred Heart Parish.

  3. Marie says:

    There are some great vintage postcards with various views of the Sacred Heart Church, the Rectory and the main altar. Also lots of great pc images of the fabulous Lawrence Street gate to the Lowell Cemetery – in some the gate is “decorated” for Memorial Day. The Churches of Lowell – all denominations – were popular pc images. In those early pc days, just a name and “city” was a sufficient for getting the post card to the sendee! Post cards were used for inner-city communications. It must be time for another LHS-sponsored “post card” show, tell and program.