One of the things that's so wonderful about postcards as documents of social history is that people of every economic and social status sent them - from royalty and world rulers to farmers, laborers, and housemaids. Children just learning to write sent cards to each other and to relatives. Old people sent them too. If you were somehow able to pull all of these cards together, you would have an amazing collection of first-hand accounts of world and local events, epidemics, and trends in fashion and technology, all from varied individual perspectives. Along with this, you would also get a sense of their values, daily routines, interests, and education.
If you have a collection of cards to or from one person, that's where it can get very interesting as you try to piece together the events that shaped their lives. I bought a collection of about 100 cards sent to a young German woman named Trinchen von Oesen over a span of years from 1909 to 1926. I wondered at her ever-changing addresses, inevitably in care of someone else. I speculated that she had been a domestic servant of some kind. With the help of genealogical information, I was able to confirm that this was indeed the case. Her social status did not prevent her from sending and receiving lots of beautiful cards, including real-photo cards of herself and family members, as well as co-workers.
Based on the other photos I have, I believe that Trinchen (pronounced Treen-shen) is the one in the middle. She was born in 1892, so she would have been about 23 in this picture. It's hard to see, but there's a sign above the door that says 'Wilkommen.' The three young women, with their well-worn shoes, likely worked at a guesthouse in the vicinity of Bremen.
This is a somewhat earlier picture. I think Trinchen may be the third from the right. The card was sent in 1911, so she would have been about 19 at the time.
The second card was sent from her sister Lina, although the handwriting, as on many of these cards, is very difficult to decipher. Trinchen also received many cards from her twin brothers Karl and Hermann from home and as they went off to fight in World War I. I know that Karl returned, but I suspect that Hermann did not.
Here are the backs of the cards in the same order. Once I learn to read this Suetterlin handwriting (any day now), I will have a translation for this.
If you want to observe more people at work (as you relax this weekend), head over to Sepia Saturday.