Postcards telling a thousand words

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Postcards telling a thousand words

I have completed many interesting projects volunteering for the Social History Curator. But easily the most fascinating has been entering information into the Museum's data base about 300 vintage postcards. Collected by a woman from Nottingham whose father was a miner, the cards have been donated to the Museum.

 'Talking pictures' is the best  way to describe the collection. Mostly black and white, but some beautifully tinted, the postcards tell stories of the working environment of miners above and below ground - their tools, the machines used to dig coal and transport it to the top, the collieries they worked in. Many cards also commemorate mining disasters, royal visits, strikes, anniversaries and the people who devoted their lives to the industry. Each one adds to the intriguing tale of coal mining in bygone days.

 Easily the most poignant cards are the six entitled, Don't go down the mine tonight, Daddy. They tell the story of a lad pleading with his father not to go to work because of a dream he had about an explosion at the mine. But the miner says that it is his duty to go to work so that people will have fuel to light their homes and cook their meals.

 Prior to the invention of the telephone, sending postcards was a popular way of keeping in touch with loved ones. Millions of cards were sent through the post every day and received the following, thanks to up to 6 mail deliveries a day. Cards featuring photos of every day life and occupations were common. 

 The person who donated the cards spent a small fortune in collecting them - one card costs £100. Though many cards have no monetary value attached to them, each is priceless in offering a glimpse of the past and an insight into the way people used to live their lives. Like the many other volunteering activities going on at the Museum, such projects are helping to keep the history of coal mining alive.  

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