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Using Postcards as Historical Evidence


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



Additional Resources

Anatomy of Postcards

Like any other piece of historical evidence it is important to understand the subject matter depicted in the postcard, who made it, and when it was produced. Real picture postcards had the potential to be altered in many ways. Negatives were often altered, thus “darkening the sky, lighting the windows, and adding a moon” and “hand-coloring, when done, was sometimes added by a middle firm, that is an intermediary between printer and distributor. The proceeding example and diagram illustrate the different parts of a postcard. While there are variations, this template will serve as a guide for interpreting any postcard.


anatomy of a postcard





History of Postcards

Anatomy of a Postcard

Postcards as Evidence