If you find some old postcards in your family history piles. Here are a few ways you might want to use them.
But first, digitize them (use the process in this blogpost)
Second, regularly backup the digital files
Third, if you’re a keeper, archive them correctly
Fourth, even if you’re not a keeper, consider saving ones that might have the sender’s DNA on the stamp if there’s any possibility you’ll want to extract DNA (totheletter DNA)
Fifth, if you’re not a keeper, give the meaningful ones to family who will want them
Sixth, use the digital files or leftover postcards! Here are some ideas.
For me, the value of old postcards is in the images. That’s it.
In our family postcards, few of the messages contain especially valuable information. I’ve saved a few if I think I might someday want/be able to glean the sender’s DNA from the stamp (totheletter DNA) but generally the subject matter is somewhat trivial or the postcard was never used, it was just kept as a travel memory/photo. It may give the address of the recipient, but I typically have that information in my records. I’m not doing deep research into the social history of my ancestors, so I’m left with the images. I’m not interested in accumulating possessions, so I’ve digitized the postcards then given them away to family who want them. So…
Family Videos, Slideshows, Memory Books
I use postcards in family history videos. Here’s an example of a family history video with limited ancestral photos; most of the images are from postcards, free photos online, and genealogy records (a passenger list, etc).
When I make a video about an ancestor, I have more text than images. I’m desperate for more images. Postcards help fill in the gap. I don’t need (and they don’t exist), tons of photos of ancestors to tell their story. I just need some image to help the story move along.
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Making Crafts/Gifts with Old Postcards
I also make crafts or gifts with old postcards.
Here’s an example of a family quilt which includes images from old postcards. This is from ExposuresOnline.com and is no longer available but quilters could easily make this themselves.
- You cut a piece of fabric you’d like the image copied onto
- Tape the blank fabric to a piece of paper
- Put this paper + fabric into the photocopier’s paper tray
- Place the postcard on the copier
- Run the paper & fabric through the photocopier and the postcard image is transferred to the fabric (see the example below)
- Untape the fabric from the paper
- Repeat this with all the photos and postcards needed for your project
- Piece together the different images for your quilt top