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Over the years I have collected all sorts of items about Upstate New York. As a life-long Rochesterian, my personal affinity for historical artifacts coupled with my cultural roots to this region mean the items in my personal little museum are wide-ranging. While traipsing through flea markets, antique shops and random garage sales over the years, I’ve ended up with a curious collection of postcards.

In some cases that curiosity is about the card itself, and maybe a historical image from a place I’m familiar with. In most cases though, I’ve found myself curious about the messages and people between whom the card was sent.

How did Liv know Margie? Were they sisters? Were they once neighbors but moved away and decided to keep in touch?

In some cases, the messages were funny or even odd. Occasionally, I’ve even found a postcard message that is slightly offensive.

In all cases though, I’ve found myself feeling sad for the people who sent these. They took the time to write these messages and send them. Noow they’re lying in waste at a flea market on a table baking in the sun. So, instead of letting that be their final destination, I rescue them and bring them home.

Old Postcards In A Cigar Box and Books About Rochester

About The Upstate Postcard Archive

I’ve often wondered if the people living at these addresses would find it interesting to see a postcard written to a previous owner. Or, maybe a relative would enjoy seeing the handwriting of a loved one long since passed. While sitting in a cigar box on my shelf they weren’t doing anyone any good.

With some downtime on my hands as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I threw together this little website to house the postcards. My hope is that this will serve as an ever-expanding online compendium of messages sent to Upstate New Yorkers.

There may be some blank cards hosted here, too. Some of those are real interesting and fun to see. Ultimately, I hope it will be a place to browse connections among people.

A Word About Preservation

In the early stages of scanning and setting things up, it became quickly apparent that the messages on many of these old cards is already lost. Difficult to read handwriting done in pencil in some cases over 100 years ago means a lot of words are faded beyond recognition. Whenever possible, a transcription of the original message will be transcribed in the same format that its found on the card. That means I have preserved mis-spellings and grammar errors.

The scanning of the cards is done a couple different ways. In some cases a hi-rez scanner, and in some cases just simply using a camera. In all cases, I have enhanced and applied any edits using Adobe Lightroom.

A Word About Organization

Each card is built with searchable data points like a name and location. For instance, if you’re looking to find all the postcards that have been mailed to Buffalo, you can just click that taxonomy. If you’re looking to find postcards sent to a single address, you can just click the address taxonomy. Or, all postcards from a specific date, you can click that.

Once you’ve selected the data point you want to explore, you’ll be taken to a portfolio page where each postcard with that data point can be found.

One of (many) complications with these functions was the fact that throughout the years addresses were handled differently. Plus, people moved, and in some cases addresses changed even though the house didn’t move! Even still, sometimes senders have put the wrong address on the cards.

Whenever possible, cards have been logged with the information just as they appear.