Penny Chronicles and the Stories They Tell

They cost a penny to buy and a penny to send. They were the social media of their day, sent by ordinary people to update one another while at the same time showing pride in their city with images of local buildings, monuments and events. They were big pictures in a small frame. Strung together, they tell Somerville’s unique story: a visit from a president, the impact of suffragettes, veterans marching, developers building row upon row of shiny new houses. What else is new? This exhibit focuses on the picture postcard’s Golden Age, from 1905-1915, but “Penny Chronicles” is more than just a sentimental journey through a simpler, more benign time. Like today, the Golden Age was a time of explosive growth and change, and these postcards are filled with insights and messages that could have been addressed to us. Now, a hundred years later, we read over the shoulders of those to whom they were sent, sharing in their delight and dismay. 

This exhibit is curated by David Guss and will be on display beginning September 2021.