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: http://ecommunity.uml.edu/lhs/sales.htm