University of Idaho Library Releases Digital Collection of Historical Northwest Postcards

Tuesday, May 7 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho Library’s Digital Initiatives Department has released a new collection of more than 800 digitized postcards featuring images of the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth century Northwestern United States.

The Northwest Historical Postcards Collection displays unique and engaging images of people and places in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and provinces of British Columbia, Canada and Alberta, Canada. The collection includes rare depictions of turn-of-the-century buildings, thriving mining towns that later became ghost towns and Mount St. Helens before the eruption.

The postcards, which were given to the library by a wide variety of donors, come from the historical photograph collections housed in the U-Idaho Library’s Special Collections. They were digitized by Annie Gaines, scholarly communications assistant, during 2012 and 2013. A sampling from the collection is currently exhibited on the second floor of the library.

Postcards originated in Europe in the late nineteenth century as an inexpensive means of communication and quickly became popular in America. In 1873 the U.S. Post Office officially permitted the use of a double-sided card with room for a message and mailing address on the back, allowing the entire front of the card for an image.

“The history of the postcard is quite fascinating,” said Devin Becker, digital initiatives librarian. “At least a billion postcards have been sent each year since about 1910, so they’ve become a staple of our correspondence and a fundamental record of the era.

“We are proud to offer this collection online to the general public. These postcards are a valuable resource for researchers interested in the historical and cultural development of the western states.”

Questions and comments about the collection may be directed to Devin Becker at

The University of Idaho Library’s Digital Initiatives Department works to preserve, create and make accessible collections from the library, the University of Idaho, and the state of Idaho via its digitization database and digital archiving services.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more:

Media Contact: Beth Canzoneri, University of Idaho Library, (208) 885-6066,