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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Lesson Plans > History of the American West, 1860-1920
[Detail] Where gold was firs [sic] discovered [between 1890 and 1910].

[Detail] Where gold was firs [sic] discovered [between 1890 and 1910].

Letter Writing and Historical Comprehension

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, photographs were often converted into picture postcards. A search on postcard provides over 500 examples, many of which relate to the major U.S. History topics represented in the collection, such as agriculture, mining, labor unions, and Native Americans.

Select a postcard on a historical topic and assume the persona of an individual sending the postcard to a friend or family member. Compose a short message explaining the subject. Use what you’ve learned about the subject, the image’s bibliographic information, and any additional research you may want to conduct. Think about who is represented in the postcard, what they’re doing, where, when, and why. Search on phrases such as Buffalo Bill postcard or gold mine postcard to narrow your selection of images.