Enrich Your Family History With Postcards from the Past

Ohio Digital Postcard Collection

Writing a family history that has excitement when you don’t feel like a creative writer is challenged. However, you can enrich your family history projects through pictures from the past, such as post cards!

My Geiszler and Brown family lines have resided in Ohio for at least 100 years. A few years back, I wrote the first draft of my direct Geiszler and Brown ancestors. I’m working towards publishing final drafts for each family member.

The Ohio Postcard Collection offers images from across the Buckeye State,

Columbus Barracks, Ohio

If I’m writing about an ancestor’s military history, I can find postcards of the Columbus, Barracks. Look at the building and other scenes that make this building more than just words on a page!

Cincinnati ballpark for Family History Project
Caption from collection: 12,000 People at the Ball Park, Cincinnati, O.

If my ancestor was a baseball player or attended baseball games in Cincinnati around 1907, check out this ballpark postcard!

If I had an ancestor that had medical issues, served as a health care provider, or attended a college, such this one in Oberlin, Ohio, then the postcard collection can help. Use hospital and university postcards to enhance your family history.

Are these Postcards Copyright Free?

I’m not a legal expert. The Ohio Postcard collection advises that it’s our responsibility to determine the usage rights for such postcards. Copyright.gov states,

“For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.”

This paragraph suggests that images published, such as these post cards, are in the public domain and free of restricted use beginning with 1923. You will have to double check those facts. If they hold true, then start using these postcards in your family history projects.

If your ancestors aren’t from Ohio, then check state archives to see if such digital post card collections exist.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

3 thoughts on “Enrich Your Family History With Postcards from the Past

  1. You both are very welcome. Many of my ancestors are from Ohio. I would love to spend more time in the state trying to solve some mysteries, visiting cemeteries, and digging through relative's 'clutter' for hidden treasures. I'm looking forward to using the Post Card link to trigger my mother's memories of Ohio.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this link. Ohio's my state for at least half my ancestors. And now that I've looked at it I'm wondering how I missed it, since CML is my home library!

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