Last week the Austrian National Library launched its digitized postcard portal AKON Ansichtskarten Online with over 75,000 historic postcards available to browse and download. The AKON portal supplements several other similar online resources such as the E-Pics Image Archive at the ETH Zurich, which includes a large group of historic postcards assembled by the Swiss collector Adolf Feller. Both collections focus primarily on European postcards. Many of these images provide valuable information about buildings or urban ensembles now destroyed or dramatically altered, while others offer amusing presentations of familiar sites.
Good online collections emphasizing American postcards include the Boston Public Library’s Tichnor Brothers Collection, the National Trust Library Historic Postcard Collection at the University of Maryland, and the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery (here search under the genre “Postcards”).
Most images are freely available to use and download under a variety of Creative Commons licenses or public domain designations. The navigation on the AKON site is intuitive but slightly clumsy, based on a zoomable world map. The ETH site includes extensive metadata with its images, automatically creating captions.
A loose sampling of postcards from these collections follows, grouped under the headings “Work” and “Play.” The first category features sites that have occupied me professionally during the past year, while the second shares snapshots of my summer vacation. Click any image to link to its source.
P.S.: The Boston Public Library gives an incorrect location for Lake Macatawa – it is in Ottawa County in western Michigan.