The following was published in The Arkansas Genealogical Society E-zine, Volume 1, Number 4 (November 2006)

Contributed by Carolyn Earle Billingsley

Tips for Arkansas Researchers

Adding images to your family history should be part of every genealogist’s repertoire. Images like maps, pedigree charts, diagrams, and photos add interest and a personal touch to your research. But how many of you have thought about postcards?

Sometimes you don’t have an image of your grandfather visiting the courthouse, but you can still spice up your family history with a postcard image of that courthouse. In my case, for example, I don’t have a photo of my parents sitting on the steps of the high school where they graduated back in the 1940s, but I was able to find a postcard of the school that dated to that era.

You might be surprised how many post cards there are out there. E-bay is an excellent place for finding them.

And now Ancestry.com has a large collection of postcards online. Here’s their press release about this new collection:

Source Information: Ancestry.com. Historical Postcards Collection, c. 1893-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2006. Original data: Mary Martin Postcards (www.MaryLMartin.com), Perryville, MD, USA.

About Historical Postcards Collection, c. 1893-1963:

This database contains approximately 50,000 postcards dating from about 1893-1963. About three-quarters of the postcards contain pictures from places within the United States, while the remaining fourth contains pictures from abroad. Information provided about each postcard includes:

Place information (city/town, county, state/province, country)
Caption
Postcard era (year range from which the postcard may be dated)

This database is primarily useful for obtaining a photograph or picture of a specific place in time. If you do not already have pictures of the places your ancestors lived, historical postcards are a good alternative to personal photos.

Ancestry’s collection even has an old postcard of the church my great-grandparents belonged to in Little Rock-and over 500 postcards of a variety of Arkansas sites. I especially liked the 1915 card of the old Confederate Soldiers Home, which has long since been torn down. The image includes the back side of the card, with the written message was written, along with the old stamp and the postmark.

So look around your relatives’ houses, poke around flea markets, search the Internet, peruse e-Bay, and check out Ancestry.com for images to fill in those gaps in your family’s pictorial history.

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