Family Treasures

Mom has all kinds of crystal vases and China and fancy lamps and porcelain doll collections; glassed in hutches with this and that; and if you haven’t noticed, those kinds of things don’t appeal to me at all. Mom is always asking me what things of hers I want “when they’re gone”.  I always tell her to give the fancy stuff to my sister and my niece. I’m way more interested in old pots and pans, old cookbooks, family pictures and, of course, that Bernina 930 sewing machine that hasn’t been used nearly as much as mine.

Every now and then when I’m home, mom comes out with real treasures . . something that my sister and niece would probably toss before ever getting home, but something that makes my heart skip a beat. Out of the clear blue, she handed me these and said “do you want these?”

My mom’s mother (my grandmother) had two brothers serving at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked and my grandpa’s brother was somewhere but not Pearl Harbor.  These post cards were all postmarked in 1940 – 1943.  Some of them mention my mom being in second grade.


Can you see the handwriting?  It’s so amazing how things have changed.

One of my grandma’s brothers was a POW and while being moved from Germany to Japan, the ship was sunk and he lost his life.   Both brothers were in the Bataan Death March.  I am patiently waiting for the Kindle edition of the book, Tears of Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and its Aftermath.  Mom doesn’t know much about what happened with my grandpa’s brother but he survived and I remember him.

My dad had four brothers serving in WWII at the same time; one lost his life then and only one, Uncle James, is still living.  Speaking of my dad’s siblings, his oldest sister, Aunt Ruby, is almost 91, Uncle James is 82 and Aunt Gail is between James and Dad, with Dad being the youngest, at 76.  All three called dad on his birthday.

Any ideas on what I can do with these postcards?  I’d love to frame them but I’d like for the front and back to be visible and I don’t want to glue them onto anything.  I thought about some kind of little glass box I could sit on my coffee table but would they fade over time in there?  I’d hate to stick them in the safety deposit box and never share them but I don’t want to cause them to degrade.

It’s real hard for me to think what our forefathers went through for us to have the freedoms we have today and then see what I perceive as freedoms being given up or taken away. Those young men in my family and in your family gave up their lives to defend freedoms and too many in our day will not even write their congressmen and hold them accountable for their actions.



  1. 1

    dawn says

    do you have a scanner? you could scan the postcards onto your computer then print them out on the muslin that is backed with paper and put them into a quilt. I have done this with pictures of my nieces and the pictures come out pretty clear and neat. then you could put them away from danger but yet share them daily.
    Dawn in MA

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    My sister has used “Floating Frames” for items for my brother-in-law. It is double sided glass that way you can see both the front and back of what is in the frame. Also you may want to spray them with an archiving spray, (scrapbook/photo department) to help preserve them from the acid and ligin in the paper.

    I would love to see what you come up with.

  3. 3

    Carol says

    I have seen a couple examples of “Floating Frames” on the Antiques Roadshow. The experts suggest using acid free mats to help support the postcards/photos/etc to help keep them free of the glass and to display them away from sunlight.

  4. 4


    I’m with Carol, go with the “floating frames”. I was at a flea mall and found a really cool old postcard from New Bern North Carolina and had to have it but I wanted to display both sides and the floating frame works great. My post card was written from a young girl to her aunt as her family traveled the east coast.

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    Yep, archival quality mats (or anything that touches them) and I would not spray them with ANYTHING. Light is their enemy, so put them somewhere where they will get no direct sunlight and not much ambient sunlight either. But enjoy them. They were not printed on archival paper, as they were not meant to last forever. But they have lasted this long, and are treasures.

    BTW, I do agree with the idea of doing high-quality scans of them as they are now, front and back. Put them on a CD and/or upload them to Flickr. That way even if they do fade you have copies of them as they are now. I love putting interesting old things on Flickr because then lots of people can enjoy them and use them as references. For free. :o)

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    Madison says

    Hi Judy- A good frame shop will use special glass, so they can be mounted double-sided as you wish. As for the acid paper, yes, light is the enemy & the special glass will make a huge difference. Libraries use archival sprays on acid paper all the time, but I agree, leave this to a professional. A web search for your area should net you a good conservator.

    Once conserved and framed in special glass, they still need to be kept from direct sunlight, but they can be out and enjoyed by family and friends. These are a treasure and worth finding a conservator whether publicly displayed or not.

    Until then, store between archival sheets of non-acid paper away from light. Or, as another said above, scan, print, and display copies in any frame, quilt, light source, etc. keeping the originals safe in archival storage. Either way, ENJOY!

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    The National WWII Museum website has some info on preservation that you may want to review.

    In addition, once they are preserved, you may want to talk with family as to what will eventually happen to these items – such as a donation to a local history musuem or to a state or national one. I have heard that some of the musuems are looking for oral histories of people serving during the wars.

    A friend who lives in New Orleans told me about the National musuem and asked that I consider donating the WWII items that I am finding at my mom’s home. So, I will probably keep the items for a while to write up a family document and then look for the right musuem to donate them to.

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    What treasures your postcards are. What comes to mind for display and preservation are archival quality, clear envelopes–celophane, glassine, mylar–I’m not exactly sure what you’d call them, so they could be put in a album, but protected, and both sides would be visible. Being in an album would protect them from the light as well. Check the Demco catalog online. I know they carry lots of archival products.

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    Whatever framing solution you decide, how about mounting them with some images and some text showing on each side? (Rather than all the fronts showing on one side and all the text on the other.) Then you’d have incentive to turn the frame every so often and it might “wear” more evenly.

    Big thumbs up for the idea of scanning the images and putting them into a quilt!

  10. 13

    Evelyn says

    We are saying goodbye to the last of our WWII vets now, aren’t we? My uncle is 89 – we have the letters he wrote home, which were then mostly blacked out by the govt. and photocopied onto small paper in small print. Interesting. You could scan your postcards and then put the scans in hanging mobile reversable frames (IKEA has some of these). Then you can enjoy the scans and keep the originals protected from light.
    Cheers! Evelyn

  11. 14

    shannon says

    I fear that when the WWII generation is all gone so will be the rest of this country’s backbone and steadfast mindset. Times are so different now!

    What a treasure! I hope you find your solution….

  12. 15

    Peggy says

    Judy I am so glad you have brought up this subject. My cousin will be visiting tomorrow and she will be bringing with her some letters my Dad wrote to his sister, her late Mother, from WWII. I am looking forward to reading them. I also have a collection of postcards my Grandparents sent home on their many travels via the railroads of their day. Looking forward to reading all the comments so I can also properly display my treasures.

  13. 16

    Rebecca says

    I, too, like the idea of scanning them, whether or not you use the images in a quilt. That is exposure to light, though, so best do it only once.

    If there is an archival-type album, that would be the best protection from light. If you really want to display them, there is UV-protective glass, but apparently it blurs the detail.

    The timing of this post is coincidental to my cousing showing me her late mother’s fine china. There’s a whole set I could have just for the taking (apparently Sue has her own). But what I really looked at was a treadle sewing machine! (No chance, BTW). And I spent a day picking leaves from the garden for a resist-bleach technique I learned last year. My aunt had inherited my grandmother’s garden, and I thought this might be a way to honor it.

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    What a treasure! I can’t give you any advise on framing them. I would scan front and back onto treated fabric and put them in a wall hanging. I have been collecting fabric and plan on scanning photos and misc. things to put in a memory quilt. It will honor my Father a WWII vet.

    • 17.1


      These are keepsakes, for sure. What about scanning them, fronts and backs, and printing them out on Printed Treasures for quilt blocks? You can then store the treasured originals for safe keeping.

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    Oh my, what a wonderful gift! I would love to have all my Granny Dorsey’s old sewing stuff but I wasn’t able to go when they cleaned out her house and all those goodies got thrown away. I know you will treasure and enjoy the cards. Please post close-ups of them every now and then so we can enjoy too.

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    carol craven says

    today when Vern Yip was on his show on HGTV, he had special boxes that were just for that type of thing, that you can display and then see the other side. he wasuseing heros
    medals for the display. so yes they make something you can use!

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    Marla says

    Yes, I too have seen floating glass frames at Michaels or Hobby Lobby. That is such a wonderful inheritence to have Judy! I had an uncle that survived Pearl Harbor by jumping in a barrel during the invasion. I love stuff like that too!

  18. 21

    Lynn Kelly says

    What treasures indeed! Wow! And to even think that she ‘wondered’ if you’d want them!

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    I had some of those treasures, but they were lost during hurricane Alicia in 1983. The above solutions are excellent, ie Madison’s and the first link. I still have a couple of pictures with writing on the back of them like that on your postcards. It is hard to read, but it all looks the same from that era to me. Mine is already hard to read, I can’t even tell have the time what i have written, lol. I guess it comes with age. We do owe so much to our vets; someone around here said recently we need to have a 2 year mandatory service so our young ones will have a sense of the sacrifices our servicemen and women have and are making. Sorry, didn’t intend to rant, it just comes to me when I see and hear the stories from World War II. I am sure you will find the perfect solution. Let us see them when you get them done.

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    Lizzy Hentze says

    I haven’t had time to read all the replies so this may have already been suggested but I thought you might be able to put them into PVC sleeves and do scrapbooking style stuff around them to tell their story and use it like a coffee table book. I hope this makes sense to you cos now that I read it I’m not sure it’s clear! But you’re so right, that is a treasure to cling onto!


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    Hi Judy,

    I would definitely get a high quality scan made of both sides, and frame those, store the real ones out of sunlight in archival envelopes. I got a kick out of the one sent from Alliance Nebraska, I was raised just down the road from there, well in Nebraska terms it was down the rode, about 35 miles, but Alliance was the largest town closest to us for a long while.