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Using Postcards as Historical Evidence


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



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Postcards as Evidence

Through examining this collection of postcards there are a series of themes that emerge as being an important part of defining their use as evidence. Some of these include examining changes in the built environment, environmental changes to parks and nature, changes in the architecture and character of buildings over time, as well as cultural and communal icons that were captured and turned into postcards. Postcards often include written inscriptions and markings which can first help date a postcard, teach about the postage system and development of the United States, and can tell a story about a particular person, place, or trip. John Jakle and Keith Sculle acknowledge that:

through postcard art, Americans learned what was important both in big cities such as Chicago and in small-town and rural locales beyond. Postcards pictured the important aspects of local landscapes and places, especially buildings, streets, and parks. They taught us how such things were best visualized.

Postcards capture both a pictorial history as well as a written record. Through the careful examination of these postcards it is possible to learn about cultural and social values. The content of each postcard is different, yet postcards can provide historical evidence in the form of social, cultural, and economic factors.

Utilize the links below to learn more about the use of postcards as historical evidence.





History of Postcards

Anatomy of a Postcard

Postcards as Evidence