Voices From the Past

Jessica: Enjoying a day at the desk, listening to the rain.

One of the many pleasures of writing historical fiction is the research. And one of the things I particularly love is when I find new resources to use. Over the summer I was lucky enough to find several old souvenir postcards from Old Orchard Beach. All of them had inspirational images on their fronts that helped me to imagine life in Old Orchard during the Gilded Age. Today I thought I’d share a look at some of what inspires me as I work.


This is a postcard of Fern Park which was a scentic area in Old Orchard set away from the shoreline.


Except for the clothing styles this photo could have been taken on the beach at any time since European descendants began lounging on the sands in Old Orchard.


This was the way the shoreline with all it’s hotels looked until August 14, 1907. Before the next day was through most of the hotels pictured were burnt to the ground in the worst fire York County had seen up until that point.



The back of this one really made me feel connected to the the past in a way none of the other research I have done so far had. Most of the postcards had never been sent but this one briefly chronicled a vistor’s experience in Old Orchard just after the devastating 1907 fire broke out. The sender writes “As I stood for a moment on the piazza of the Aldine, and surveyed that beautiful stretch of sea and land, I little thought that before the midnight hour, the pretty picturesque shore would be a mass of seething, smoking ruins.”


Readers, do you collect or send postcards when you travel? Writers, what sorts of research do you do and what do you find the most inspirational?



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6 Responses to Voices From the Past

  1. Bec says:

    Great post Jessie! I loved to see those old postcards and I must say you nailed the description of OB in Whispers Beyond the Veil! It’s exactly what I pictured in my mind. I loved the scene where Ruby goes for a swim and wears a swimming costume for the first time. She was so nervous about her bare calves! Can you imagine sitting out in the sun in one of the big full dresses like in the postcard!?! I also liked the post card that provided instructions on where to write the message. As I’ve said before… Anyone who hasn’t checked out Jessie’s new book is missing out. It’s a beautiful story with all the bits a mystery reader would love! Thanks for sharing today!

    • MCWriTers says:

      Thanks Bec! I really loved trying to bring a sense of the Old Orchard of the Gilded Age to readers! And I enjoyed giving Ruby the chance to try on a daring bathing suit!

  2. Monica says:

    I have tons of postcards from my parents’ travels around the country. I’ve got the postcards I bought, but never sent, from the NY world’s fair (lots of space age stuff).

    I’ve printed postcards of my own photos of Maine scenes for the guests at my B&B to take for their scrapbooks or to mail.

    Postcards are a snapshot in time. A wonderful reminder of buildings and clothing and what was meaningful to people years ago.

    • MCWriTers says:

      I would love to see postcards from a World’s Fair! And I couldn’t agree with you more about how postcards reflect what is of value to people in their own time.

  3. Skye says:

    I love this and I remember the past looking forward to the mail each day for cards, letters and postcards, too. I always adored buying and sending them from the seashore, and getting postcards from others during their vacations, but it seems times have changed. So much is online, and sometimes people send out GROUP greetings. I adore old postcards, especially those of lighthouses or historical places.
    When I need to research for writing purposes, I always try to find newspapers ( both large city or small town papers), and I also try to catalogue other novels or non fiction written during a specific time frame.

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