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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Postcards provide glimpses of life years ago.

POSTCARDS. Postcards were being seen in the mail around May of 1873, but none had been brought to the city for sale at the post office. One side carried the address of the sender. The first cards cost one cent each. (1)

Dubuque was the second city in Iowa to receive postcards. A shipment of five thousands were received at the very end of May, 1873. Orders were booked for another eleven thousand. (2) The Dubuque Herald announced that fifty thousand cards had arrived in Dubuque on August 5, 1873. (3)

In May 1874 it was announced that postcards could be mailed to Switzerland for two cents through a treaty negotiated between the two countries. (4)

Photo courtesy: Mike Larkin

A History and Checklist of Dubuque Postcards, an index of local postcards, was written by Betty Weiland, a former president of Postcard Pals, a collectors group.

Postcards' "Golden Age," around the time of the FLORAL PAGEANT, illustrated scenes of Dubuque with drawings. Recently discovered postcards showing the pageant were distinctive because they included photographs. These were known as REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS (RPPC).

Unusual copper/over postcard stock paper postcard
Cover of a packet of pictures of Dubuque from the bluffs




1. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, May 16, 1873, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18730516&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "Postcards," Dubuque Herald, June 1, 1873, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18730601&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, August 6, 1873, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18730806&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, May 1, 1874, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18740501&printsec=frontpage&hl=en