• General Info,  Puzzles

    A Musical Mystery? Crack an old Postcard Code

    Shorthand and use of non-English languages reduced the number of people who might read a given post card. Nevertheless, senders still ran the risk of postal workers and others (family members, friends, neighbors) being able to read the cards. Perhaps more the case with non-English languages sent from or delivered to ethnic and/or diverse neighborhoods, but more people may have been able to read shorthand then than now. And then there are codes. It will likely come as no surprise that some people used codes to communicate through postcards. With codes, the recipient had to have the key to decipher the message–but codes likely defeated casual readers. As a matter…

  • Collecting,  General Info,  Puzzles

    Keeping Secrets? Messages in Shorthand on Postcards

    Last post introduced Clara Stahl and Agnes Naylor, two stenographers in Grinnell, Iowa, in the early twentieth century. Both collected postcards, and agreed to exchange cards (i.e. send them to each other) to help increase their respective collections. We know this thanks to a typewritten card Clara sent to Agnes. Typewritten cards offered highly legible messages for recipients to read. (Typewritten messages are also much appreciated by many historians.) Clara clearly didn’t mind anyone and everyone reading that message. Nor did she likely worry about messages she composed in handwritten English. After all, the very nature of postcards meant anyone who got their hands on one–such as a postal worker…