While many people collect postcards for the picture or stamp that adorns them, the genealogist and historian alike can find a wealth of information in the humble words written on the back. Take this example currently for sale on an auction site.
Look for the clues in the sender's name, who the card is addressed to, and any mentions they make of the town. The obvious is first to start with the photo. This is the newly opened Thames Hospital on Baillie Street - so the card you would expect to be used early 1900s. Next the postmark - could be 09 (1909) and the PENNY UNIVERSAL stamp was issued 1901 and 1908.
This card was sent by Mrs BATEMAN of Thames to Mrs S MATZER (AKA MATZEN) of Ireland Street, Ponsonby.
In the 1911 Electoral Roll, Mrs Susannah MATZER/MATZEN is still living at 30 Ireland Street in Ponsonby and is recorded as a widow. In the early 1900s the Bateman family is well known as Butchers, just one block from the hospital. The 1905 Electoral roll shows three women who could have been the letter writer.
Susannah Matzen died in Auckland in 1927 and is buried at Purewa Cemetery, Auckland. Back in 1867, Susanna Powell had married mariner Captain Peter Matzen. Peter Matzen died in 1898.
If you have treasures like this postcard, consider contributing a digital image of the card to The Treasury - so we can continue to look at our past families of the Thames.