Uncovering family histories hidden in postcards

Uncovering family histories hidden in postcards Blog Header
Old Genealogy Family History Photographs and Documents on White Wood. Photo credit: Megan Brady, Getty Images.


Who doesn’t love getting a postcard in the mail? They’re often colourful, sometimes irreverent, and always a nice surprise to find stuffed into your letter box. But beyond their charm as novelties, postcards can also be linked to a family’s history previously untold. This is because they were once one of the most popular ways to communicate with loved ones abroad. 

Although many postcards are thrown away without a second thought, some can provide a fascinating insight into the history of a family that has been previously untold. For example, postcards from exotic or far-flung locations may have been sent by an ancestor who was travelling at the time. 

By taking a closer look at old postcards, families can uncover generations of shared memories that have been hidden in plain sight. Alternatively, postcards that feature unusual or rare designs could be linked to an especially memorable moment in a family’s history. 

So next time you’re rummaging through dusty boxes of old photos and letters, keep an eye out for any postcards that might be lurking there! They just might tell you more about your ancestors than you ever imagined.

By taking the time to look through old postcards, it is often possible to glean new information about one’s relatives that would otherwise remain hidden. Who knows – you might even find a long-lost relative’s picture on a postcard.


Postcards from London
Postcard. Photo from Helen Baggott

This postcard was sent from Australia to an address in London. This postcard was sent to Anna, a music teacher and spinster in her late thirties. The postcard to her wasn’t signed, but the handwriting matched that of the man she eventually married. The mystery writer? An undertaker from the UK and his family had a long history in the business. His name was Edgar Nodes.

The Edgar family is surprising in that they are all involved in the business of undertakers. Horace Nodes, the first cousin of the Edgars, was president of the British Undertakers Association and arranged for the bringing home of the unknown warrior after World War I.

A lot can be gained into what happened behind the scenes of the unknown warrior from learning about Edgar Nodes and his cousin Horace. The official images that are seen don’t show what actually happened.

Listen to our podcast to hear more about postcards from London’s past.


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