Why use a postcard? Why not a regular size piece of paper, you can fit more information on it? Postcards have many uses and they are not only used to write to a loved one or a friend. It is true; postcards are used to write to a friend or family member from a vacation. They can also be used to see a distant place that someone would want to go to. Postcards, in that sense, can be used as advertisement. Postcards can also be used as a way of showing that you are a tourist, by collecting them wherever you go. Along with these uses, postcards have also been used as propaganda during war times and for many political purposes.
Postcards can be a means to simply say “Hi.” People often send postcards from vacation or use local postcards as greeting cards. Also, postcards can be used to show someone how nice of a time you are having on your vacation. The North Shore, including Beverly received a large number of tourists around the time of the invention of the automobile. With cars, people began to vacation in Beverly using new streets that were developed. Here a postcard of an early-developed street is shown, and that is what many streets of the time looked like. Before postcards were developed, many tourists would have used a gazetteer. A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary containing any landmarks or specific attractions of the place a person is going. People would tend to look at a gazetteer before of after they went on vacation to see what they were going to see or what they did see.  As tourism became a bigger industry, postcards became more popular as a way to show where you have been and where you are going.
Postcards also serve as advertising functions. As stated before, a tropical island can be shown on a postcard, and automatically anyone who looks at it wants to go there. For Beverly, advertising could have been as simple as just putting pictures of beaches to attract tourists. Here an aerial view of Beverly’s beaches is shown.  Even if one’s vacation was dreary and filled with disappointment, postcards still portray the beauty of the vacation spot.  Also it would help to make your tourist dream come true.
Postcards can also be used as a means of communication. There are two aspects of communication within a postcard. The front of the postcard contains the picture, which visibly shows where a person was. Most importantly, the back includes the writing. Postcards can be used to send a note to check up on someone or just say hello. Another use of postcards is as a collector’s item. Here a picture of a lighthouse is shown which would be a great postcard of a landmark to collect.  Collecting postcards was a common pastime and still is today. Many people collect postcards to learn more about history. Modern postcards can be compared to one from hundreds of years ago to learn more about lifestyles back then. Postcards portray how people used to dress versus the present. As you can see, the Taft family wore mostly black attire as well as long dresses. 
Architecture is another aspect of why people collect postcards. Buildings today have changed from those of the past, which you could see using these architectural postcards.  Also, you could use architectural postcards to see if any important people lived in Beverly such as President William Howard Taft. Taft owned a summer house in Beverly for two out of four of his years as President of the United States.  Historical buildings are an important factor to find out about different jobs or businesses of the time. For instance, the largest corporation in Beverly was the United Shoe company, which is represented on many historical postcards. 
Improvement of education is another aspect where postcards can be used. You can take a postcard of a school from fifty years ago and compare it to a picture of a school and see the major improvements.  Postcards are a great source for any historical information needed.
Postcards have been used as propaganda during war times. For instance Uncle Sam may have been used trying to persuade people to get involved in the war efforts. As for politics, postcards were used to show who was running and to tell people who to vote for.
Many people think that postcards are just something that gets sent to friends when they go on vacation. Although that is true, one can see there are a number of other reasons. The most common people who would use postcards today would be historians and postcard collectors. Historians would use postcards to learn more about cultures and lifestyles of the past. For example, comparing the dress of people or the crowded streets of a city. Individuals who collect postcards may do it as a pastime or they may be interested in social history.
Burdick, J.R. Pioneer Post Cards. self published, New York: 1957.
Phillips, Tom.The Postcard Century. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 2000.
Staff, Frank.The Picture Postcard and it’s Origin. New York: Frederick A. Praeger
Willoughby, Martin.A History of Postcards. New Jersey: The Wellfleet Press, 1992.
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