Using Postcards for Family History

In my article The Many Ways to Consume History, I gave examples of ways that I consume history, most examples were of public history and from a non-academic source. One of the ways I stated I consume history is by collecting antique postcards.

Today's haul of antique postcards

This Easter Monday I visited a Postcard and Collectable Paper Fair that is scheduled for my local recreation centre once or twice a year. I haven’t visited it for a couple of years as I often forget that it’s on and then a couple of weeks later try to locate a fair and kick myself that  I’ve missed it and the next one is a couple of hours’ drive away.

Postcards of the Mersey Tunnel

My father and grandfather (and many uncles) worked on the ships that left the port of Liverpool and so I have several postcards depicting the the docks and landing stage at Liverpool. My grandparents arrived in Liverpool from Ireland during the 1920s and these images also represent something that they may have seen as they arrived in England for a new life.

Postcards of the Landing Stage, Liverpool

I have a postcard of the alter of St Vincent de Paul RC Church, Liverpool, where my mother and some of her family were baptised. Indeed, one uncle was named after the church! It is one of my favourites.

St Vincent de Paul, Liverpool

I was brought up in the seaside town of New Brighton ‘over the water’ from Liverpool and a lot of the postcards I collect are associated with places I remember as a child. I have a postcard of the alter of the church attached to my primary school where I made my Holy Communion and Confirmation. I also have an external view of the church standing behind the school walls, taken from the road I lived in from when I was a baby until I was a teenager. Our house would have been on the right somewhere in front of the car pictured.

Many of the postcards I collect are scenes of the seafront and seen through the lens of the Victorian and Edwardian camera – the heyday of New Brighton and it’s fairground. The postcard in my featured image is of the beach at Harrison Drive and is one I bought this Easter for £6.50 – the message on the reverse is fascinating, it’s an order not a request!

Postcard dated 10 January 1905The postcard below is my most expensive postcard to date, costing me £15.

It’s of the railway station at New Brighton. It’s higher cost reflects it’s theme – train station postcards are very collectable (so I was told). I love that it’s a steam train waiting to depart the platform. I used to use this train station to travel to visit my grandmother in Liverpool,  also the one or two stops (depending on my mood) to take me to school as a teenager and later when I went to college in Birkenhead.

The above images are of the seafront at New Brighton: an undated postcard of the Fort Perch Rock (previously The Battery), then one of the New Brighton promenade photographed from the Fort dated 1905 (bought Easter Monday for £3) and a photograph that I took of the Fort Perch Rock recently.

More information about postcard fairs can be found here.

Read more information about Fort Perch Rock here.

7 thoughts on “Using Postcards for Family History

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