Friday, July 12, 2019

Old Letters and Postcards

Don't condemn your relatives for being packrats. Sometimes the materials they maintain can be the source of tremendous clues for your research. Ask your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles if you may look through old letters and postcards for addresses and dates. Sometimes the dates and return addresses will help you locate or place a lost or missing relative. The contents of these written communiqu├ęs can provide additional details on their lives and those of other family members. This information may be just the missing link you need to make the connection to the next research step.

In addition, savor the images you find on vintage postcards. They may show the places where your ancestors lived at the time they were there, and that can provide you with a visual perspective of their daily lives. Picture postcards from places they may have visited and their observational comments on the obverse side of the card may expand your understanding of a journey they made. Either way, you are building the context of their lives.

Vintage postcard from the early 1920s of Peace Institute (now Peace College)
in Raleigh, North Carolina. The author's aunt was attending at the time and
this postcard provides a visual context of where she lived for two years.


  1. all true after I lamented all I had to go thru after parents' deaths. the hundreds of postcards people sent instead of letters is invaluable as well as all letters mum saved from her g/f and relis once she immigrated. simply amazing...

  2. I have 2 shoe boxes FULL of postcards from the early teens that my husband's grandfather sent his grandmother. Invaluable! Also several postcards from Bohemian. So glad he or she was a pack rat.