My Postcard as an Historical Artifact


“The postcard is an incredible chameleon: it can function as a documentary image, correspondence, a lithographic or photographic print, advertisement or ephemera. Furthermore, in any particular instance, it can function as any or all of these documentary forms simultaneously.” (Ferguson, Pg. 168) 

As this postcard is not dated, the historical information about the buildings at this site can tell us that this postcard has to be from between 1816 and the 1960 's.  However, around 1902 the British Post Office allowed for the postcard to be split in half on the back, allowing one half for writing and correspondence, and the other was reserved for the address (The History of the Postcard).  The back of this postcard is split in half which tells us that it has to have been from after 1902. From this we can assume that The Green, Kilwinning postcard is from between 1902 and the 1920’s because this is when it became more common to see cars on the road, and there are no cars in this image.  By being able to date this postcard it gives us an insight into the history of Kilwinning as well as showing us what tourists were interested in.


For a long time postcards were not seen as a valuable source (Ferguson, Pg. 167).  This postcard can show us many things that are useful to understanding history, showing that it is a resource that is of great importance.  This postcard shows the Abbey Green at Kilwinning Scotland, which was a place of social gathering. The focus of the clock tower suggests that it may be one of the main tourist destinations in Kilwinning.  This emphasis shows that people were interested in the history of architecture during this time and that tourists traveled for the purpose of seeing places of historic significance.  

After determining the date of this image it can tell us many things about the Abbey Green, for example how it was a place of social gathering and created an atmosphere of community that is seen in the group of children.  The children that are pictured can give us insights into the class of people that were living in this area as well as how children were dressed. The postcard shows us the culture and customs of the community or how the publisher, Dickie, viewed and wanted to convey the culture and customs.  In this case, the publishing company is located in Kilwinning which suggests that the culture and social atmosphere depicted is true. This postcard would have probably been used by travelers to show that they had been to a historically important place, the Abbey, and the use of people in the image would have shown that they had also experienced the culture.  For anyone who had once lived in Kilwinning this image would have “contributed to personal memory” (Ferguson, Pg.168) because it depicts one of the main architectural elements of Kilwinning that they would remember.

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