Frequently Asked Questions
Where do the postcards come from?
How do I find my ancestor's postcards?
It’s easy… just search for your surname. Don’t forget your parents have two surnames, your grandparents have four surnames and your great grandparents have eight surnames! Do you know them all? Register a free account and you can filter the results by year and by country. Please note: we respect human privacy. Person searching is limited to Surname, Country and Year. We do not allow searching for persons by street or address for privacy reasons.
How does the search work?
You can search for any text in the “Surname” field. It will match both surnames and anything else you wish to search. You can limit the results geographically by using the “Location” field. This uses both the sender location (which is typically the postmark location) and the receiver location (which is typically where the postcard was addresses to). After the search results appear, you can further filter these by year (typically the postmark year or the handwritten year if there was one) and by surname (both the sender and receiver surnames can be filtered where available).
What's the difference between Archive and Marketplace?
The Archive contains “digital only” postcards which are not for sale. For example, postcards from museum collections or postcards uploaded by the community simply for sharing. The Marketplace contains postcards that can be bought. After the purchase is complete, you will receive the original, unique postcard from the seller in the post.
How can I contribute?
Use the upload button to add a postcard. Your postcard should be postally used and contain details of both the sender and receiver. During upload you can choose if you simply want to share or sell the physical postcard. You’ll need to make a digital copy of both sides of your postcard first and these should be high quality (you’ll get a message if the image needs to be higher quality – a minimum of 800 pixels wide).
If you have more than a few postcards to add, we have a bulk upload service. Please use the chat button (bottom right corner of your screen) and we’ll be happy to assist you with your collection.
How can libraries, archives and museums participate?
If you represent a library, archive or museum, we’d love to hear from you. Institutional collections are an important part of PostcardTree. We provide full attribution and deep linking back to your catalogue, driving new visitors to your website and helping to boost awareness of your organisation and your collections. Please use the green chat button (bottom right corner of your screen) and we’ll be happy to tell you more.
What are member profiles?
When you add a postcard to PostcardTree, we show it in your profile. Each member has a profile. Anyone can view your profile and your profile’s URL is in the format of search.postcardtree.com/USERNAME
Can I sell postcards on PostcardTree?
Yes! Anyone can sell a handwritten postcard on PostcardTree. When you upload your first postcard, just select the Sell option. Your postcard will be uploaded and members will be able to make an offer to buy it from you. There is no fee to add your postcard to PostcardTree. When your postcard sells, we take a 15% commission from the sale price.
If you already sell postcards online, you should upload your handwritten ones to PostcardTree. We can help sell your postcards by matching them to buyers.
If you have more than a few postcards you’d like to add to PostcardTree, we have a bulk upload service. Please use the green chat button (bottom right corner of your screen) and we’ll be happy to assist you with your collection.
What quality setting should I use when scanning postcards?
We suggest a quality setting of 600 dpi. You can upload the original scan file without resizing it. To help ensure quality, the upload form checks that your images are at least 800 pixels wide. We do this because we want the PostcardTree experience to be an enjoyable one. Therefore whether you are saving a postcard to the archive or selling a postcard on the marketplace, we encourage you to upload only the best quality scans of your postcards.
Scanning postcards with a scanner still produces a better result than taking a photo with your smart phone. If you’re scanning a small collection, we recommend FlipPal, a portable scanner that doesn’t require a PC to operate.
If you have more than a few postcards you’d like to add to PostcardTree, talk to us. Please use the green chat button (bottom right corner of your screen) and we’ll be happy to assist you with your collection.
We encourage our community to look out for any images that are poor quality. Examples include:
Low resolution, pixelated images.
Poor lighting or shadows in the image.
Illegible handwriting due to pixelation or shadows.
Poorly cropped or incomplete images.
Upside down images.
Help us keep PostcardTree a place of high quality. You can notify us of any issues you encounter using the Flag button on the postcard’s page.
Why does the transcription sometimes have errors?
The quality or resolution of the digital image has an impact on how good the transcribed text is. When the postcard image is very clear and the handwriting style is well formed, the results are generally very good.
We encourage our community to help others find postcards by correcting any errors found in text, especially the names of people and places. You can do this using the Flag button on the postcard page. We’ll be rolling out a new editing process in the future.
What is attribution?
Often a great deal of work has gone into adding a postcard to PostcardTree. Postcard’s come from a variety of sources and we always want to provide credit and attribution where it’s due. This information is visible on the postcard’s page in the ‘About’ tab.
Why are stamps upside down or sideways?
Congratulations! You have just uncovered the secret language of stamps. Long before the days of emoji, the position of the stamp was used to communicate your feelings without writing them down. This secret language is a form of Sigillography. You can read more about it and see some examples on our blog.
Some images are offensive to me. What should I do?
Postcards are presented as part of the record of the past. They are historical documents which reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. PostcardTree does not endorse the views expressed in these selections, which may contain content offensive to users. Please use the Flag button on the postcard’s page to alert us of any specific concern you have.
What languages do you support?
We’re proud to offer PostcardTree in over 100 languages. The pages are machine translated from English so the translation may not be perfect, but we hope it allows you to enjoy using PostcardTree in your own language. You can select your language from the Translation drop down menu below.
In addition to English, the ‘Read the Message’ button can currently speak in 43 other languages. These are:
ES: Spanish Female
FR: French Female
DE: Deutsch Female
IT: Italian Female
EL: Greek Female
HU: Hungarian Female
TR: Turkish Female
RU: Russian Female
NL: Dutch Female
SV: Swedish Female
NO: Norwegian Female
JP: Japanese Female
KO: Korean Female
ZH: Chinese Female
ZH-TW: Chinese Female
HI: Hindi Female
SR: Serbian Male
HR: Croatian Male
BS: Bosnian Male
RO: Romanian Male
CA: Catalan Male
FI: Finnish Female
AF: Afrikaans Male
SQ: Albanian Male
AR: Arabic Male
HY: Armenian Male
CS: Czech Female
DA: Danish Female
EO: Esperanto Male
HT: Hatian Creole Female
IS: Icelandic Male
ID: Indonesian Female
LA: Latin Female
LV: Latvian Male
MK: Macedonian Male
PL: Polish Female
PT: Portuguese Female
SK: Slovak Female
SW: Swahili Male
TA: Tamil Male
TH: Thai Female
VI: Vietnamese Male
CY: Welsh Male