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Mason County Memories

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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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Last week we examined how to distinguish a real photo postcard from printed postcards. That article and an expanded list of companies producing Photographic Postcard Stock can be found at http://ludingtonmichigan.net/history/article-001.htm .

Most of the vintage postcards that families in the United States have in their grand parents albums date from 1898 to about 1950, with most being printed after 1900. In 1898 Congress passed a law that allowed companies to produce cards that bore the title "Private Mailing Card".

This law allowed cards to also be sent for a penny postage. Prior to that time only government issued postcards could be mailed for a penny, all others cost two cents to mail. Only the government produced cards could be called a postcard. Privately printed cards were souvenir cards, and from 1898 to 1901 the term Private Mailing Card was use

Ludington Michigan Odd Fellows

d. Writing was not allowed on the back of the card from 1898 to late 1907, only the address could be written on the back of the card.

While there were Souvenir cards, and advertising cards printed and mailed prior to 1898, and of course the postcards of the 1893 Columbian World's Fair the real postcard collecting boom didn't take off until after 1901.

On December 24th 1901 Congress made a change in the law and now allowed private printing companies to use the word Postcard/Post Card on their stock. It was about this time that European countries started to produce high quality color Lithographic post cards for the U.S. market. People wanted to communicate as easily and cheaply as possible with friends and family. Postcards fast became the e-mail of the day with an attached photo.

Photographs were trickling into use at this time on postcards but it wasn't until Kodak took notice of the growing postcard boom and introduced their pocket camera about 1906 that they gained in popularity. The change in the law in late 1907 that allowed the back to be divided and messages written on the back and a camera that produced a postcard sized negative really fueled the Real Photo Postcard market.

The Odd fellows Temple postcard is an example of a postcard with an undivided back and was mailed from Ludington in 1908.

Ludington Michigan Odd Fellows

This card was produced prior to 1908 but not mailed until almost a year after the change in the law that allowed messages to be written on the back. Postcards printed after the change has a line dividing the back, one side for messages and one side for address. Writing on the front of an undivided back card is not considered a flaw when grading a card and determining value.

Jane has written home to tell about her plans to attend a program by the Ludington Rebekahs at headquarters tonight. She states that she is in the Post Office now and "Lots to tell you when I see you". Postmarked October 17th 1908 Ludington, and mailed to Mr. Fred Andrews in Lake Odessa Michigan.

For the genealogist, family postcards can provide some clues as to the kind of life our great grandparents may have lived, what they did, how they spent their time and the things that were important to them. Births, deaths, homecomings and general gossip of things that may not have made it into the official family record can be found on the back of a penny postcard.

More information about Jane's trip may be obtained by looking through the microfilm of the Daily News for the week after this October 17th meeting, or tracking down minutes from the meetings of the Rebekah's group that Jane belonged to.

Local small town newspapers of the day also printed many columns about happening's, about town, who had left for a trip, who bought a new car or had a radio installed in their homes. Looking through the papers from Jane's hometown may also provide the family genealogist with more information about this trip to Ludington. In genealogy every answer usually creates two new questions, and every clue is important.

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