Historical finds in our midst: the postcard

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[February 27, 2017]  LINCOLN - When we think of archaeology, what comes to mind? Well, there is always the professor digging at a historic site in the blazing sun looking for the remnants of a lost civilization. Thatís one example, but there are other examples of historical excavations much closer to home.

The Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society displayed the bits of family archeology that may have come from the contents of a forgotten box in the attic. At the LCG&S February monthly meeting, three large boxes of old postcards from the early twentieth century were on display.

The postcards were donated to the Society by a local family, and tell of a rich family history just as surely as a dig at some far off ancient civilization. They also tell a story about what America was like when they were originally sent.

Postcards are a relatively recent way of sending greetings to friends and family. They originated in the nineteenth century, but in a form that was different from the traditional postcard from a vacation spot.

Early postcards were mostly sent to commemorate holidays and special occasions. Today, people go to a store and buy a fancy card to celebrate a birthday or Christmas or Easter. In earlier times, these special occasions were celebrated by sending what was known as a penny postcard. The penny referred to the postage that was charged to mail the postcards.

The first postcards were found in the United States around 1873, and seventy percent of them were manufactured in Germany. The Postal Service kept the price of a stamp to mail a postcard at one cent for decades. It was increased to two cents in 1918 then dropped back to one cent shortly thereafter. It was only increased to three cents in 1958.

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Picture postcards with a photo format sent to celebrate a vacation spot were produced much later.

The LCGHS has early postcards that show scenes from Emden and Atlanta. The collection also includes historical postcards with scenes from important sites all over Lincoln. This type of card is difficult to find these days. Sure, when you travel to the big city or important tourist sites, postcards abound. But to find one that celebrates a tiny town and local businesses is nearly non-existent today.

Al and Doreta Hassebrock stopped by the meeting to show off their own family postcard collection. The oldest card in their collection is from 1907.

The Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society meets the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. There is always an interesting presentation, and the public is invited to attend.

[Curtis Fox]

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