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Using Postcards as Historical Evidence


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



Additional Resources

Applications: Objectives

The use of primary sources is vital to the teaching of history in today’s classrooms. In the early 1900s John Dewey and Francis Parker acknowledged that every written word of history should ask a question. Dewey and Parker proposed an inquiry based pedagogy in which a student’s entire world is their learning laboratory where “experiments in history teaching” should take place. This idea of inquiry based learning bodes well for the use of history sources in research and in the classroom. Inquiry based learning is a major component of the current Common Core State Standards.

The basis for this page is based on the organization of Fay Metcalf and Matthew Downey’s argument for how local history resources can be used in Using Local History in the Classroom. Upon examining this site, users will be able to articulate how postcards can be utilized as a form of historical evidence. This site provides the basis from which a teacher can create a customized lesson.

Learning Goals & Objectives

  • Students will be able to demonstrate that they can utilize primary source materials.

  • Students will develop visual literacy and critical thinking skills.

  • Teachers will be able to utilize this as a digital resource in history lessons.

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the parts of a postcard.

  • Students will be able to identify the historical context of a postcard.

  • Understand what postcards can reveal about families, social history, economic history, and political history.

  • Understand where digital postcard collections exist and can be accessed.

  • Understand what sources exist about conducting local history research and pertain to the history of postcards.





History of Postcards

Anatomy of a Postcard

Postcards as Evidence