Turn It Over! Genealogy Clues on Old Postcards

By Maureen A. Taylor

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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