Travel Postcard Collection


Historical Ephemera Blog Post – David Balmer


This collection of historical ephemera is from my personal collection of postcards that I have bought while traveling in the US, overseas in Europe and Africa, and also some sent to me from friends who have traveled abroad. These postcards have a great deal of meaning to me as they remind me of my travel adventures but also my past and where I may have been at that point in my life mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Postcard 1

Postcard from the Vatican in Rome. Received March 2011. Tech Specs: Camera Type: iPhone 6 Plus File size:1.49 Mb Image size (Original): 2978 X 2087 Dots per square inch (DPI): 72 Color Mode: sRGB

Postcard 7

Postcard received from a friend in Lisbon, Portugal in February 2011. Camera Type: iPhone 6 Plus File size: 2.20 Mb Image size (in pixels): 1980 X 2797 Dots per square inch (DPI):72 Color Mode:sRGB

Postcard 3

This postcard was purchased in April 2012 and sent from me to my friends/roommates. Postcard has image of Westminster Palace featuring the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben. Camera Type: iPhone 6 Plus File size: 1.44 Mb Image size (in pixels): 2841 X 2002 Dots per square inch (DPI): 72 Color Mode: sRGB

Postcard 4

I bought this postcard in April 2012. It shows some of the major monuments of the city of Paris that I wanted to remember. Camera Type: iPhone 6 Plus File size: 1.94 Mb Image size (in pixels): 2987 X 2034 Dots per square inch (DPI): 72 Color Mode: sRGB

Postcard 5

I bought this postcard to remember my trip to Tarifa, Spain. In the picture you can see the coastline of Morocco which is only 14 km from Tarifa across the Straits of Gibraltar. Camera Type: iPhone 6 Plus File size: 1.20 Mb Image size (in pixels): 2713 X 1966 Dots per square inch (DPI): 72 Color Mode: sRGB

Technical Specifications:

  • I used my iPhone 6 Plus to take these images. All images were taken in the same location and in a continuous fashion one right after the other. I used a white background with natural window lighting which was much better than using a flash or artificial lamp lighting. In the process I wanted to make sure that I covered up any direct personal inscriptions as to keep those private. However, I wanted to make sure you could see the images well so I zoomed in as close as possible but still allowing the edges to show so one can see that they are infact postcards and not just pictures.
  • The images taken vary in file size, image size, and DPI so I will address these in the caption for each image.

Historical Description: 

My collection of International Postcards is very simply kept because they help me remember where I’ve been in the world but also friends who have sent me postcards while they travelled abroad. They are significant to me personally because of the time in life I went on these trips where I bought the postcards. I had never gotten on a plane until I was 30 years old and my domestic travel was pretty much limited to the East Coast so I decided it’s now or never and the rest is history. Also these postcards are significant because they remind me of the important things I saw while I was in these locations; Monuments, Landscapes, etc. The reason I chose these 5 out of my collection of 30+ cards is simply because they are my favorite. London is by far my most favorite place in the world. Paris was lots of fun with so many historical sites to see specifically Notre Dame.The Vatican and Portugal Postcard was from a good friend of mine at the time who has drifted away from me and it reminds me of good times with him. The Tarifa postcard reminds me of an unforgettable 6 hour tour to Tangier, Morocco that I will never forget.

Pedagogical Implications:

  1. How can students learn history with your ephemera?
    • One way students could learn using my postcards is learning about geography. I would say this can be done by using an inquiry project where students have to guess where these locations are physically in the world and answer some sort of big idea question. I could also do a Geography Scavenger hunt with them where they have to get clues at one location on a postcard and have to find the other to get the next clue. This could be tied to a different PBI question and used as the “hook” to draw in student interest.
  2. How might you recreate the digitization process with students?
    • I would use a similar project platform as this activity where I showed them in class how to digitize artifacts and then invite them to bring in 3-5 items of their own that tell a story about who they are. The images that the students take will be up loaded and grouped together and their classmates would have to figure out, based on the images, whose story was being told.


Written by dlbalmer

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