The postcard has gone the way of the elevator operator and the straight razor, replaced by smartphones and YouTube. But there was a time when postcards were a vital component of our long-distance communication, like the telegraph and the letter. Thank goodness for Kenneth Wilson, who reminds us of the time when it was unthinkable to take a vacation without sending postcards to loved ones at home.
This history of the humble postcard covers its so-called golden age from the late nineteenth century through World War I...Although the book is a selective history, covering only the period from 1900 to 1919, its twenty chapters provide depth about such topics as the degree of artistic imagination and commercial calculation that underlay picture postcards, making them miniature canvases for many aspiring artists. Their wide subject matter included veterans' reunions, historic landmarks, holiday celebrations, natural disasters, train wrecks and other tragedies, as well as the more familiar "wish you were here" images and photographs of airplanes, automobiles, and giant dynamos. In addition, readers will find serious subjects like the Underground Railroad, racist humor, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Wilson does the reader a service by showing not just the card's picture but also the message on the back, which provides historical context for the image and a window into the mind of the sender. This makes the postcard a personalized record that is both brief and unsanitized for public consumption. Although the book is primarily a sample of Americana, cultural history, and the visual arts, as many as forty pages include content related to Texas.
There have been other histories of the postcard, but this book's combination of text, visual images, and beautiful design make it among the best for a non-technical audience... Richard Selcer, Fort Worth, Texas