Postmarked with Love

~posted by Jade

In honor of Valentine’s Day and the spirit of sending messages to loved ones, I’m sharing a couple of fun postcards from our online Historic Seattle Postcard Collection. One of my favorite parts about this collection is finding postcards that include messages between friends and family. These brief notes can reveal some unexpected stories about the senders and recipients and offer a small snapshot of history.

Take this 1911 postcard, for example, addressed to Ethel A. Allatt. The sender writes “Don’t you love me anymore? –A.” A.’s identity is a bit of a mystery but aided by some of our local history and genealogy resources, I managed to find out more about Ethel.  The 1906 City Directory, available in the Seattle Room, lists Ethel as a telephone operator living in Seattle. It appears she relocated to Orcas Island soon afterwards, as Ancestry.com records show she was appointed as a U.S. Postmaster at the Rosario Post Office in 1909 and married Glen Porter in 1912. I also found one mention of Ms. Allatt in the Seattle Times newspaper database that makes her an even more interesting character. The article, appearing on March 22, 1910, describes her efforts to preserve land on Orcas Island and identifies her as a relative of Robert Moran. Moran was a prominent Seattle shipbuilder who rose to the rank of mayor before retiring to Orcas Island. There, he built the Rosario estate and donated the land that would eventually become Moran State Park in 1911.

Another 1909 postcard, addressed to a Ms. Marjorie Zinkie in Illinois, has this message on the back, “My Dear Marjorie, This is where you will arrive and the sooner you all do the better I will like it. Love from, Papa.” The postcard shows the interior of King Street Station shortly after its construction in 1906. Again using some of our great library resources, I was able to find out more about Marjorie and her family. It appears “Papa” in the postcard is her father, Robert W. Zinkie, who was an office manager at Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company. The family (including mother, Jeanette, and little sister, Marion) first appears in Seattle in the 1910 City Directory where they are listed at an address in the Ravenna neighborhood. A fun and unexpected fact that I learned about Marjorie while researching this post (thanks to a 1919 article in the Seattle Times) is that she grew up to become a librarian. After graduating from the University of Washington, she began working at the Seattle Public Library which the Times deemed a “very successful experience.”

It’s so fun to me to see the types of stories that can be unraveled from something as small as a postcard. And these are only two postcards! We’ve digitized another 139 that you can now see online and have many more waiting to be scanned. Interested in seeing more postcards from the collection? Check them out here!

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