Penny postcards preserve Washington of yesteryear

Published 5:09 pm Friday, June 14, 2019

Measuring roughly three by five inches, the small piece of heavy paper packs a big wallop when it come to history.

A postcard depicting the Washington Hospital and dated 1903, the bit of ephemera captures the image of a landmark that has been lost to the ages. It’s among the oldest postcards in a small collection housed in the John A. Wilkinson History Room at the George H. and Laura E. Brown Library in Washington.

Such postcards were often discovered by local residents who, knowing their significance, wanted to preserve them for future generations of Beaufort County residents to appreciate and enjoy. Rather than toss them out with the trash, they insured that the postcards would be placed in the local archives.

Souvenir postcards appeal to collectors and historians alike because they depict communities that have changed over the years. They are invaluable because they were produced in an era before cameras and photography became commonplace.

An interesting footnote: The postcards featured here were mailed using one-cent stamps. For the record, it now costs 35 cents to mail such a card. Progress?

RIVER VIEW: A view of Washington from the Pamlico River is captured on this postcard, mailed in 1910 by a guest staying at “Louise Hotel” to a friend in Philadelphia. (Brown Library)

WATERFRONT: This undated postcard pictures the Washington waterfront with the train trestle in the background. It most likely dates to the first half of the 20th century. (Brown Library)

MOONLIGHT: A rare nighttime view of the Washington waterfront is pictured on this card, postmarked 1920. (Brown Library)

HOSPITAL: Bearing the legend “Washington Hospital,” this postcard, with its 1903 postmark, is among the oldest in the Brown Library collection. (Brown Library)