The info lit of postcards (InfoSavvy)

Postcard of steamer on Chautauqua Lake

Image from New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Do you collect postcards?  If so, you know how this hobby involves multiple types of information.  As I sort through a box of family postcards, I’m learning firsthand about these sources.

I started with what I know best–library resources.  The URSUS catalog yielded the books you see on the References list (Though dated, the price guide can serve as a starting point.).  I found the articles in the America: History & Life database (I would recommend Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center as well.).

These readings will inform my conversations with the appropriate people.   For the cards I wish to donate I will need to contact people from various historical societies and special collections.  For the cards I wish to sell I will need to consult collectors and dealers.  These people are information sources, too, after all.


Allmen, D.  (1991). The official identification and price guide to postcards. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Getty, R. (2012). Memories for a dime. Alberta History, 60(3), 64–71.

Range, T. E. (1980). The book of postcard collecting. New York, NY: Dutton.

Sprague, S. S. (1979). Old postcards: A look at your ancestors’ world. Family Heritage, 2(4), 100–105.

Vallerand, J. (2013). La carte postale nous raconte [Postcards tell a story]. Canadian Rail: The Magazine of Canada’s Railway Heritage., (557), 265–269.

Wood, J. (1995). The collector’s guide to post cards (Rev. ed.). Gas City, IN: L.-W. Promotions.

Posted by on July 31st, 2014 Comments Off

Organize items and consult experts (InfoSavvy)

Preservation Week logo

Image from

For both Preservation Week (April 27-May 3) and my work with USM’s Franco-American Collection, I listened to a webinar on preserving family archives.  Two themes connected to aspects of information literacy.

The first theme was the importance of organizing your materials.  Organizing information is an underrated aspect of information literacy: it relates to the use of information.  Let’s use family photos as a case in point.  If a folder of photos includes a list of the subjects, future generations would know who was in the pictures.   Then those descendents could decide what to do with the photos (which ones to keep, which ones to share with relatives, etc.).

The other theme was the value of consulting subject experts.  Presenter Karen Brown fielded questions from participants.  When time ran out, she recommended talking to a local conservator.  Information literacy involves knowing where to go for information: sometimes the best resource is a person.

Of course I gained some tips on protecting family treasures as well.  I’ll pass along a few:

  • Display copies instead of the original valuable item, when possible.
  • Rotate displays of originals (to avoid exposing an original too long to the elements).
  • Keep the valuables away from extremes of  temperatures or humidity.

Still, organizing information and consulting experts are habits that apply to many settings.



Posted by on May 1st, 2014 Comments Off

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive

Salem Witches

With Halloween approaching let us take a look at the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive. The archive created by the University of Virgina, consists of digital primary source materials that cover the 1692 trials, including the transcriptions of the court records. The collection also includes period literature about the trials along with letters and other court documents. The collection also contains historic maps of Salem Village and maps showing the locations of the events described in the court records. The collection is searchable by keyword or by the timeline of events.  Biographical profiles of those involved with images of notable people and historic paintings and illustrations give life to the court records. So if you want to know more about the witch trials or the history of Salem be sure to check out this resource.


Posted by on October 25th, 2010 Comments Off

In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience


Looking for information about African-American Migrations or African-American experience? Then try In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience. This site from the New York Public Library contains over 8,300 illustrations, 60 maps, and thousands of pages of primary and secondary texts focusing on the thirteen defining migrations that transformed the African-American experience and the United States as a nation, including the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Colonization, Haitian Immigration, the Great Migration, and more . Each section of the site includes full bibliographies and a plethora of related web links. Users can browser by migrations, by geography, or by a timeline of events. The site includes educational materials and lesson plans for teachers. So if you are looking for materials about the African-American migrations or just interested to learn more about American history be sure to try this site.


Posted by on February 7th, 2010 Comments Off

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook from Fordham University is a collection of sources both primary and secondary that span the time period of the Fall of Rome to the voyages of Columbus. The collection is presented in categories such as the formation of Latin Christendom to Jewish Life to Economic Life to Sex and Gender, to names a few and all with links to the textual sources that cover these topics. Along with these pre-defined categories the collection also offers a full-text search option. Also included in this collection is the collection of hagiography, biographical works on the lives of saints. While this site is rather old in terms of the internet, it dates from 1996, it has been updated and most of the links to external sources should still work. So if you are looking for primary documents about topics during the time period covered here then this is a place to start.


Posted by on April 6th, 2009 Comments Off