Research Value of Postcard Collections  

The Rio Grande Historical Collections has an extensive collection of postcards available for patrons to view.

Postcard of Las Cruces, New Mexico Public School

Postcard of Las Cruces, New Mexico Public School, ca. 1908 (RG79-62/2)

Thousands of digitized postcards held at the Archives and Special Collections (ASC) can be viewed via our photographic collections database. The information I am about to share will definitely capture the attention of postcard collectors or individuals who may be simply curious and wish to view a variety of historical postcards.  ASC contains postcards from various eras of postcard production, which are broken down as follows: 

  • Pioneer Era (1873-1898) 
  • Private Mailing Card Era (1898-1901) 
  • Undivided Back Era (1901-1907) 
  • Divided Back Era (1907-1914) 
  • White Border Era (1915-1930) 
  • Linen Era (1930-1944) 
  • Photochrome Era (1939-Present)

 Value of Postcards

Postcards revolutionized communication due to their convenient format and allowed family and friends to keep in touch with one another. Postcards can be seen as equivalent in the manner that social media is used today. Postcards offered an easy and efficient method for individuals to communicate with one another, which over time proved to be very popular.

Postcard A.T.&S.F.

Postcard of A.T.&S.F. Las Cruces, New Mexico, ca. 1911 (front) Sinclair Hunt collection (RG93-210/1)

Postcard A.T.&S.F. Verso

Postcard of A.T.&S.F. Las Cruces, New Mexico, ca. 1911 (verso) Sinclair Hunt collection (RG93-210/1)

Postcards are wonderful and useful visual resources because they offer rich evidence of culture and social life. They provide a glimpse into how daily life was conducted. In addition, written content located on the postcard itself can offer a great deal of information, serving as a great primary resource and providing insight into daily life, social events, and relationships.

Among the many collections housed at the ASC containing postcards, the Amador family papers, Armijo family papers, Thomas K. Todsen photograph collection, Johnson family postcards, and the Mexican Revolution photographs provide a representative sample of the various types of postcards that are available in the repository.

Postcard of Main Street, Roswell, New Mexico

Postcard of Main Street, Roswell, New Mexico, undated. Knowles Postcard Collection, RG2003-009

The postcards are available for viewing and consultation in our reading room and thousands are accessible online through our photo database. As a reminder, due to the current pandemic, only NMSU affiliated individuals with an Aggie ID may make an appointment and visit in person. Feel free to contact us via email at archives@nmsu.edu to obtain further information or send a duplication request.


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