About the Northwest Historical Postcards Collection

Postcard is part of a postcard packet. Image is of a canyon on the Pend d'Oreille river.
Grand View Canyon, Pend d'Oreille River

From hand colored images of Mount Rainier to the historic streets of early Moscow, Idaho, the Northwest Historical Postcards Collection displays unique and engaging images of people and places in the Northwest during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Portraying locations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Alberta, and British Columbia, the collection offers a glimpse at the historical and cultural development of the western states, with rare depictions of turn-of-the-century buildings, thriving mining towns that later became ghost towns, and Mount St. Helens before the eruption.

This digital collection of over 800 postcards comes from the historical photograph collections held by the University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections & Archives. The postcards range in date from the 1890s to the 1980s and were given to the library by a wide variety of donors. The postcards were digitized and described by Annie Gaines in 2012-2013.

A Note on the History of Postcards

Postcards originated in Europe in the late nineteenth century as an inexpensive means of communication, and the cards quickly became popular in America. In the early twentieth century, the U.S. Post Office permitted the use of a divided back card, allowing for both a message and mailing address to be on one side making it possible for the entire front of the card to be used for an image. Since then, millions of color and black and white postcards have been mailed to family and friends across the country.

For More Information on Postcards


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Last build date: 2019-11-07.