Posted from the Past, reveals real stories behind centuries old postcards found at various sales, shops, and online auctions.
Helen Baggot explained that her self-published book Posted from the Past has actually taken 20 years to finalise. Helen worked as a proof reader and, to increase her understanding of the field, Helen read up on the self-publishing process, then realised she could use the process to release her own book.
She said: “I began researching postcards several years ago when my parents bought one from a car boot sale that was sent to a soldier in 1913 and addressed to the Chelsea Barracks. The postcard had been sent from America. I eventually traced Gilbert Freeman’s short life (he was killed in the Battle of the Somme) and shared my research online.
“That led to his relatives in America contacting me (two of Gilbert Freeman’s brothers had emigrated to Massachusetts – one before and one after the First World War). It was so satisfying to share my research with his family – and others – that I decided to continue researching postcards and very soon realised that each had a fascinating story to tell and they have become the collection published as Posted in the Past.”
Research for the book has taken Helen all over the UK, visiting the homes where the postcards were delivered, and Helen’s detective skills are well and truly honed.
“For whatever reason all the postcards I’ve collected have been discarded. When people downsize there’s a limit to how many items with emotional connections they can take. If you’re asked to take something as a keepsake you’re more likely to take something from the mantlepiece rather than a postcard.”
Helen researches each postcard using the Census returns of 1901 or 1911, and tries to match the writing on the postcard with the writing of the head of the household on the Census:
“That information gives you how old they are and and who’s in the household. That gives you a lot to start with. I then start checking the marriage register and probate records. It all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. I don’t have any particular background in genealogy, except I’ve always been interested in history at school and had worked on my own family trees.”
“It’s a shame that today not many people send postcards and even the postcards that are received over the years are never kept,” she continues. “I’ve been thinking ‘the postcards I need for the future are all on Facebook and now there’s just thousands and thousands of pictures that people are posting. People will be blinded to the story.”