History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

18 April, 2014

Postcards from America, Part One

I recently discovered the Boston Public Library on Flickr, and it was instant love. They have over 90,000 images in 380 sets, from photographs to posters to trade cards to produce crate labels. Though they're not on the Flickr Commons, most if not all of their images are available to share under an attribution Creative Commons license. I am very excited to explore, and if anyone on the Boston Public Library team ever happens to read this, thank you!

One of the highlights of the collection (at least in my eyes) is a collection of over 25,000 postcards from the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. These are proofs of postcards that were sold by the Boston-based Tichnor company. Every state (at the time) is represented, although some are represented much better than others. As well as a wide variety of views there are huge numbers of advertising postcards depicting roadside motels, diners, and other businesses; total old-school Americana. I plan on sharing some of these fellows in the future, but I thought I'd start a journey through the collection with a journey through the states. For this post and the next, I've picked one card from each state (with no deep thought; just ones I think are great). Hawaii and Alaska, of course, weren't states at the time; there is a single postcard of Alaska but it's just a map so I skipped it. For some reason Minnesota and Kansas are hardly represented at all; there are a few business-related cards but none of the nice view cards every other state has. So sorry, Minnesotans and folks from Kansas (Kansasians?)--no offense is intended by the cards I chose! 

These are in alphabetical order. For each state I've linked to the corrosponding state set on Flickr, so you can have a look at the rest of the ones you like-- some states have over a thousand!


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Georgia. Almost every state has a similar postcard, and many cities and towns do too. Source




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Kansas-- sorry Kansas, there just weren't many postcards from the state! Source




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Minnesota, haha-- there are no non-business cards from the state for some reason, which is really a pity because it's a lovely state! Source




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