Thursday, June 24, 2010

Picture Postcard Japanese American History

My grandparents were avid collectors of postcards. Most of the cards they acquired are the typical tourist fair, but on occasion, an odd historical oddity appears. The one posted below definitely caught my attention.

The image is of, according to the caption at the bottom corner, is of a Pioneer Japanese Woman's Grave. That is pretty much an accurate description of the image, but a few things catch me off guard with this image and its purpose. The card is an example of a "real photograph postcard." These were non-mass produced images usually taken by individuals and then processed at a local shop which would print their photograph onto the standard postcard size and paper of the era. This style of card was popular from around 1903 to the early thirties.

In an era when "Alien Exclusion Acts" prevented Asians from owning land in California, this image still strikes me as odd. Usually postcards of these types were of local buildings, parades, civic events, or other  historical occurrences, but a grave marker rarely falls into this. My only guess as to the original photographer is that he or she must have been another Japanese individual in the community and that my grandparents purchased the card while in their travels.

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