Local postcard collection showcases 20th century ‘social media’

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s Special Collection Library is promoting its postcard collection ahead of a series of events kicking off this month.

The collection dates back to at least 1905, but some cards are believed to be as old as the late 1800s. Librarians say many of the postmarks have worn off, leaving their age a mystery.

The collection began in 2001 when the city hosted the national celebration of the Diamond Jubilee for the establishment of Route 66. To celebrate, the library mounted an exhibit using postcards of scenes along the entire route featuring the Duke City.

Greetings from Albuqueruqe, New Mexico

Today, the collection is both online and can be viewed in person. It includes more than 2,000 postcards published throughout the 20th Century. They’re assembled from donations received over the years, and organized into geographical and subject categories.

How postcards acted as 20th-century social media

Albuquerque, NM postmark

The postcards of the 20th century could be images of anything from architecture, to animals. They were short, on a whim messages. A way to share a moment with a friend or loved one far away. They were widely available and affordable, costing only a penny until 1925, and about as close to uploading a picture to social media as people got before the digital age began. The postcard provided a window to another place, another time, another life, just as smartphones do today.

Postcard History in New Mexico

In fact, the postcard was so good at advertising new places, a New Mexican governor dedicated an entire day to it in 1911. June 22, 1911, was proclaimed “Postcard Day” where residents were asked to send a postcard to their friend or family from out of state to help promote New Mexico. Records show that some people sent up to 250 postcards.

Today, that culture of promotion still exists on social media. There’s even a mural off Central Avenue that looks like a postcard, that people take photos in front of, presumably so friends who aren’t with them can see it.

To check out the collection in person at the Special Collections Library, or online, clicking here.

Postcard Collection Events

  • New Year’s Eve Before Dark – Visit the Special Collections Library on Central from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to try you postcard knowledge and ring in the New Year early
  • Old Town Arts Entrepreneur and Postcard Artist Talk – Learn about one of the artists behind some of New Mexico’s most famous postcards on January 11, 2020.

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