The link for ‘Historiana Timeline in Postcards’ drops you into a simple yellow page with a few paragraphs describing the purpose of the site, along with thirteen postcards to click into. Some titles are in English and others are written in German. Postcards are time capsules into people’s thoughts and cultural norms of the time. The typical uniforms and perspectives on the war are revealed in both the propaganda riddled art and grim realistic writing on the other side. The introductory paragraphs discuss how, as the war went on, the writings on the back of the postcards became bleaker. There was a clear dip in morale. The color scheme is immensely telling of this shift in behavior, with the first postcard in 1914 filled with bright yellows, reds, blues, and purple to a black and white image of the ruins from a fire in 1917. In order to read the contents of the postcard, you must click the image and then the highlighted blue source at the bottom. This seems to bring you to a white page. Sadly, these all contain broken links. I was shocked to find this and decided to look into the website Historiana itself.
With a quick Google search, I found the updated website with the now fixed link: https://historiana.eu/historical-content/source-collections/world-war-i-postcards. A new introductory paragraph is written here with relatively the same message. Postcards from World War I function as conduits from the Front to civilians at home. The paragraph then delves into the history of the postcard and discusses the pre-printed messages that began to spring up, as well as the censorship of the men who wrote more realistic accounts of the horror on the battlefield. The images are valuable to historians and students alike who wish to glimpse a snapshot of the time. In the updated link, they carry many different languages rather than just British, American, and German. Plenty of Italian postcards grace this webpage.
There were different themes on display with many images containing religion or pulling upon the heartstrings in other photos. One of my favorite postcards was the embroidered ones. ‘1918’ was sewn into silk that was glued to the postcard with the different flags of the nations involved. This was a very popular souvenir amongst British soldiers but was not a cheap purchase due to the silk. Another unique postcard was a set of ten that created one image of a French soldier blowing a horn. Each card was from Ireland to France for soldiers to collect along the way.
Patriotism was a common and popular thing to depict on postcards, selling especially well amongst the British soldiers and civilians alike. Men marching and doing valiant deeds, whether drawn or photographed, were at the center of many. Women were consistently depicted as countries as allegories for peace or patriotism. Other forms of women functioned as encouragement with depictions of their families eagerly waiting for their men to return home. This was particularly common in the array of sentimental Christmas Cards you could explore. One of the more particularly moving pieces of propaganda depicted a little girl praying for her dad to return safely with a small image of a generic man.
Since the original link: https://historiana.eu/collection/world-war-1-postcards is not working properly, I will be giving the strengths and weaknesses between both the old and new sites. Within the old site, what makes it truly unique is the ability to follow along with the changing moods of the postcards as the war progressed. They are in a linear timeline that helps someone unfamiliar with the war visualize the chipper propaganda to the bleakness of the rising slaughter. I think reading the contents of the postcard would have allowed a closer and more intimate look at people’s minds of the time. The broken links stop this further inquiry. I’m sure when things worked properly this page was immensely insightful and showed the gradual degeneration of morale on all sides as the death toll rose. As of right now, all that is available is seeing the images of some postcards in linear order.
In the new link, the list of cards is not in a structured timeline but instead just labeled as different themes such as religious postcards or sentimental ones. The strengths lie in the descriptions. When you click on an image, there is a bit of history and details about the particular card itself. It also sources where the postcards are from in different archives giving it reliability.
I think both websites could have added more information, and the newer site could have added a more linear aspect to it. So far, there are only twenty-two examples on the new site when they could instead make proper categories to place an array of postcards in them, hopefully in chronological order. The first site boasted personal writings on the back of the cards that were never explored due to the broken links. I thought on the updated site they would have the personal writing, only to find historical descriptions. I feel like I was left out of the intimate conversation between people of The Great War. The new site could improve with the addition of the translated and transcribed writings of the former senders of the postcard.