Turn It Over! Genealogy Clues on Old Postcards

Turn It Over! Genealogy Clues on Old Postcards

This ordinary postcard captioned "R. I. Institute for Deaf and Dumb, Providence, R.I." contains a photo clue and it's not the building pictured. It's the message on the back:Dearest Ma got my proofs to day only one out of five that looks like me. The rest looks as...

This ordinary old postcard captioned “R. I. Institute for Deaf and Dumb, Providence, R.I.” contains a photo clue, and it’s not the building pictured. Instead, it’s the message on the back:

Dearest Ma got my proofs to day only one out of five that looks like me. The rest looks as if I was going to cry. The two of Ed and I are good. Grace wants to know how much the cards are up there. She wants to sent you some money for you to get some. With lots of love and kisses Ella. Sent to Mrs. Charles Hoxie, 36 Twelfth St. Norwich Conn

Let’s add up the clues in this old postcard message:

  • Ella posed for a school picture and so did her friend or brother Ed.
  • Ella’s mother is Mrs. Charles Hoxie of Norwich, Conn.
  • I can’t read the postmark, but this style card was popular circa 1910.
  • Students are named in various Rhode Island records. I’ll be looking for Ella, Ed and Grace.
  • We don’t know if Ella ordered final prints, but this type of message would send me sorting through family photos.

While I’m working on the Hoxie family, let me know about any interesting family history-related messages you’ve found on old postcards.

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:


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  1. Shirley Crampton

    Hello Maureen
    I knew that my grandmother and her second husband were married before my parents but I did not know when they were married. After my mother passed away I went through all of her pictures and records. She had a postcard from her mother which appeared to have been sent while she was on her honeymoon (at least she was married to my mother’s stepfather). the postmark gave me a date.

  2. My husband’s niece got the old family pic’s. She had no clue about who they were &amp; hoped I would handle &quot;the next step&quot;. Along with the pic’s she sent a scrap book of postcards. One of the pictures was of a large group of young women mostly clothed in white dresses but in a campground setting. The banner said West Virginia and Ohio. Fortunately my mother-in-law had told me which of the young ladies was one of her older sisters. She didn’t give me any background but the scrapbook of postcards did! There were 6 cards picturing the 1908 Wisconsin YMCA encampment that were sent home to the family. It was such a wonderful find! There are many pic that I cannot identify so I am still left with the dilemma of what to do with these. I have so many and the young folks don’t recognize the value.

  3. We found a postcard with a photo of my great great grandmother and family at a cabin. She sent it to a friend inviting her to visit and said &quot;there’s so much I didn’t say to you so you must visit. You don’t know how I feel about that letter.&quot; Needless to say, we are dying to know what was in the letter!! Unfortunately we haven’t found anything yet.