More than 800 historic postcards of Northwest locales can now be viewed in the digital Northwest Historical Postcards Collection.The digitized postcards featuring images of the late 19th to mid-20th century Northwestern United States were made public by the University of Idaho Library’s Digital Initiatives Department.
The postcards feature images of people and places in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and provinces of British Columbia, Canada and Alberta, Canada. The collection includes rare depictions of turn-of-the-century buildings, thriving mining towns that later became ghost towns and Mount St. Helens before the eruption.
The postcards, which were given to the library by a wide variety of donors, come from the historical photograph collections housed in the U-Idaho Library’s Special Collections. They were digitized by Annie Gaines, scholarly communications assistant, during 2012 and 2013. A sampling from the collection is on exhibit on the second floor of the library.
Postcards originated in Europe in the late nineteenth century as an inexpensive means of communication and quickly became popular in America. In 1873 the U.S. Post Office officially permitted the use of a double-sided card with room for a message and mailing address on the back, allowing the entire front of the card for an image.
“The history of the postcard is quite fascinating,” said Devin Becker, digital initiatives librarian, in a prepared statement. “At least a billion postcards have been sent each year since about 1910, so they’ve become a staple of our correspondence and a fundamental record of the era.
“We are proud to offer this collection online to the general public. These postcards are a valuable resource for researchers interested in the historical and cultural development of the western states.”
Questions and comments about the collection may be directed to Devin Becker at email@example.com.
-University of Idaho Communications