More than 60 postcards illustrating the city of Middleton, Wisconsin in the early 20th century are now available online from the Middleton Area Historical Society. The postcards were collected by area residents and depict local businesses, residential neighborhoods, schools and churches.
The digital project began in Summer 2012 when the Middleton Area Historical Society hosted an undergraduate summer service learning student from the Material Culture Program at UW-Madison. Katey Smith, a Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies major interested in historic preservation and urban planning, worked with Society board member Brekk Feeley to select, scan, catalog and research items from the Society’s image archives.
Katey chose the postcards for her digital project because she was drawn to the personal handwritten messages they contained. In a blog post for the UW-Madison Material Culture Program, she wrote:
When I came across the large collection of postcards I was totally captivated by them. I liked deciphering the personal messages on the back and felt like I was peering into a small slice of life in the early 1900s. Often, the messages on the postcards are very similar to things that I would write on a postcard to a family member or friend today.
At the same time she worked with the Society, Katey was also working as an intern with the City of Middleton Planning Department. When it came time to write descriptions of the postcards, the research files in the department’s Landmarks Commission were a valuable source of information, as was Lorena Gordon’s book Middleton’s Early Years: The People and Businesses Important to Middleton’s Growth, published by the Society in 2006.
See all postcards from the Middleton Area Historical Society’s digital collection.