Sunday, May 6, 2012

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What see above are scans of two century-old postcards. The scans were sent to me by PermaRec reader Charlene Dodds, and they're part of a project she's planning. I'll let her explain in her own words:

While going through some of my deceased father’s belongings, I recently came across dozens of old postcards from 1910s-1940s, written to and from my great aunt, grandmother, and their friends. These women loved to travel, and back then it was mostly by car, but occasionally by train or bus. Their postcards from across America have pictures of long-gone tourist attractions and hotels. I’ve spent many afternoons reading a handful of them at a time, picturing these adventurous women expanding their horizons.

Some of the postcards are crammed with info and others leave much to the imagination, just like your report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. When reading your articles, I imagined some of the Manhattan Trade students taking the trips with my great aunt and grandmother. Tracing their routes and finding out what happened to some of these once-famous landmarks has always seemed like time travel to me, much in the same way that your Permanent Record project is a kind of time travel.

When I have time, I'm thinking of mapping out the places shown on the postcards and going on a "then and now" road trip. Permanent Record traces people; my project would trace what happened to old landmarks and the communities around them.

Charlene's project will be a great opportunity for rephotography, which is basically before-and-after photography (more info here). One of my favorite examples of rephotography is the wonderful book Wisconsin Then and Now. Another is the excellent web site Dear Photograph, which is now the basis of a new book. My research partner Kirsten Hively and I engaged in some rephotography of our own a few years ago when producing a museum show about some very cool fiberglass structures in Queens (for more on that project, look here). It'll be interesting to see if Charlene's project develops along a similar trajectory.

1 comment:

  1. Super awesome project and I wish Charlene all the best. As a photography hobbyist, I'm already jealous of the adventures she's going to have. I only wish I could find a treasure trove of all report cards, post cards or something.