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Genealogy and Postal History Could Virtually Collide on eBay or eBid

Like me, most collectors of postmarks and postal history will have built up a collection of many old letters, envelopes, postcards and other such documents that were once written by, addressed to or received from an identifiable person at a clearly detailed address. Many of these things don't fit in to our collections and will probably one day get sold or exchanged on sites like eBay or eBid.

In days gone by, before the web, we didn't have the ability to display and describe these items to a global audience. There was little chance of these items ever being found by family descendants in order to build collections or scrap books around the documents and correspondence of their ancestors. Today we could do it but, to assist such a process, we would need to raise awareness of how to use the internet and sites like eBay or eBid so people can easily find family relevant items.

It has perhaps taken a decade of experience and development to realise the true potential of linking collectors with individuals researching their family tree via the web. Today most web users will know that if we just start to think a little bit more carefully about how the items we place online are described then search engines are now very capable of helping collectors and families find items of personal interest.

A quick scan across my shelves reveals POW letters, WW1 postcards from the trenches, Red Cross forms from the WW2 Channel Islands occupation, letters dating back to pre-stamp history and so much more. In virtually every case I can identify the name and offer addresses as part of my item descriptions should I ever sell these items on sites like eBay or eBid. Alone I wont make much of a impact but I can't help feeling the messages and words written on some of these items would be so much more precious in the hands of surviving family members descended from the people that wrote or received them all those years ago.

As I finish writing this article I'm looking at a postcard sent back to England during World War 1. A British soldier wrote a very brief message to his wife; "Look after little Peter. Love you. Cheerio!". While sad to read, it's not an uncommon message on postcards of the period. The card has a fairly common military postmark and little else of collectable interest to me and I'd value the card at no more than a pound or two. But what would this card be worth to "little Peter" or his other surviving family members today?

I understand that there could be issues publicising the names and addresses on very contemporary mail items but, if like me, you can see the potential of the internet to help families trace such items from their family's history a generation or more ago, then it will need some sustained effort and campaigning to try and encourage sellers on sites like eBid or eBay to start helping. Perhaps even more effective would be if an online auction site actually offered a specific genealogy focused section to list items of potential interest to people tracing their family history with some guidance on what to include in descriptions for the consumption of search engines.

So perhaps linking genealogy and online auctions together in one place is a business opportunity? Can you build a website?

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Genealogy and Postal History Could Virtually Collide on eBay or eBid

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