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While postcards have been used as a form of correspondence for over a hundred years, they are much more than a means of communication. Visuals help us to both interpret the world around us and to communicate with others. Expression through words and images helps individuals deal with social issues, express political alignments and comment on current events. In the United States, the presidency is a unique subject that is often depicted or referenced on postcards. From George Washington to Barack Obama, the president’s face is one you will often find immortalized on the front of a postcard.
Presidents are handled and depicted in many different ways through postcards. Some postcards serve to present presidents honorably and in a positive light, showing their best and most noble looking portraits while others use caricatures to demean or insult a president. Modern postcards even employ Photoshop or other technologies that allow someone to alter images to humiliate and satirize presidents in new ways. Postcards also capture the nation’s desire to commemorate and honor past presidents through depictions of memorials and decorated graves.
No matter whether through satire or displays of respect, postcards are a way that the American people can understand and communicate their feelings about their presidents, past and present.