Questions for Students

  1. This site includes numerous images of churches, hotels, railway stations, and bridges. Why do you think these images were so popular, particularly in the early 20th century? Would they be as popular today? Why or why not? What type of building is more likely to be on modern postcards?

  2. How are women portrayed in these images? Do you think these portrayals are meant to reinforce beliefs, or change them? Do you consider them apt or correct portrayals? Why or why not? How are men portrayed? When are men depicted in cartoons, or caricatured? How does this compare with cartoon or caricature images of women?

  3. Find three images from postcards created before 1940, which you do not believe would be published today. Explain why you think these images would no longer be popular.

  4. Find three images you think are effective – either moving, inspiring, or humorous. Explain why you believe they work well.

  5. What message do you think the early images from Western Canada were attempting to convey? Find letters on the back of postcards describing Western Canadian towns. Do these letters convey the same message as the images?

  6. How are various ethnocultural groups portrayed? Would similar portrayals be made today? Why or why not?

  7. Why were "disaster" images made into postcards? Would disaster images be put on postcards today?

  8. There are several images on these postcards relating to World War I. What message is being conveyed by the images of British soldiers, versus the images of France? What is the intended audience for these cards? What information is being provided by the ‘titles’ of the French cards? Look at a map of Europe and find Cologne, Germany (sometimes referred to as "Köln" or "Cöln" on the postcards), in relation to primary battlefields during World War I. What might the images of Cologne convey to the German public?
    The Laycock postcards include letters home, often written over a series of cards. Try to reconstruct these letters in order. Notice the various stamps on postcards from soldiers, as well as the "Field Service" postcard. What do the messages and stamps tell you about the war?

  9. The 20th century saw the rapid development of automobiles and airplanes; how are these depicted, compared to depictions of boats or non-motorized travel? Would any mode of travel be popular on postcards today?

  10. Major world events of the 20th century included World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. How have these been depicted on postcards? What message might be conveyed to someone looking only at the postcards here from 1930-1939?

  11. Find 10 cards which, taken together, help illustrate life at the turn of the 20th century in any one location. Explain what the images reveal about daily life at that time.

  12. Look at a display of modern postcards. What types of images predominate? Are there any types of images found on modern postcards which are rarely or not found in this website?