Ask the Archivist
If, however, you want to keep the book intact, here’s how to to offer a bit more protection to the contents:
- Protect the postcards from abrasion and create an acid-free barrier between the pages by interleaving the pages with archival interleaving tissue (see the box, above). Be careful not to overstuff the album, which creates stress on the spine. If the album is designed with an adjustable binding, you can loosen it to accommodate the interleaving. Otherwise, try interleaving every other page to reduce bulk.
- Examine the reverse side of the cards for family history information. First, wash your hands. Next, working on a clean, flat surface, carefully remove a postcard. While it’s out of the album, scan the card, front and back, in full color at a high resolution, at least 600 dpi (dots per inch). You also could take a photo of the card with your digital camera.
Examine the digital image and transcribe the writing. Look for names and nicknames, addresses of the sender and recipient, dates, family news and other family history clues. The photographic fronts of the cards may offer views of small towns and long-gone buildings. Cards with a picture on one side and “Post Card” label on the reverse, with space for the address only (no handwritten message) are among the oldest styles. Date postcards using the stamp and postmark, as well as the tips here.
Interleave It at That
Postcards on the Edge
- Digitize each card before storing. The Flip-Pal mobile scanner <shopfamilytree.com/flippal-mobile-scanner> has the perfect small-size flatbed for this project.
- Store cards on edge in archival postcard boxes to avoid abrasion and weight from other cards. If you plan to handle individual cards, place them in archival plastic sleeves.
- Use archival corrugated spacers to take up any empty space in the box so your cards stay upright.
- Alternatively, place your collection in an archival binders with postcard-sized pocket pages.
- Organize postcards chronologically, by theme or by sender/recipient. Archival divider cards can separate and label categories.
Heirloom ID: Real-Photo Postcards