• News:The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has posted "Write that Letter Home; Senders, Recipients, and the Content of World War I Correspondence" by James R (Jim) Miller. Please visit:

    Philatelic Genealogy: Old Envelopes, Letters, and Postcards as Genealogical Sources by James R. Miller was published in December 2016. The book presents 100 old envelopes and postcards in ten categories: folded letters, westward expansion, the war of 1861-1865, work, immigrants, family and friend correspondence, real photo postcards, social and political interests, travel and vacation, and World War I. Genealogical details for each sender and recipient are cited. An introduction stresses correct identification and appendices discuss an online database and how philatelic genealogy can help postal historians and postcard collectors. The book is available in paperback for $37 (check only) to Philatelic Genealogy, Inc., 112 Irving Pond Road, Caroga Lake, NY 12032. The downloadable PDF file is not currently available.

    Correction to book: Section 2-7: Writing Home to Maine on p. 81 should be titled Writing Home to Vermont.


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The Philatelic Genealogy Web Site

Postal history helping genealogy, genealogy helping postal history


Welcome to the Philatelic Genealogy searchable database of old envelopes and postcards gathered from postal history collections. Old envelopes and postcards can reveal an immigrant ancestor's place of origin, a family's migration after their arrival, or the location of siblings.


Carl Gronenberg of Oakland, California, United States, received an envelope from Skjelskor, Denmark postmarked on 23 January 1893. The city name and date appear in the postmark (upper left) and the country name is on the blue stamps (which are upside down). In the 1900 U.S. census, Carl Gronenberg, from Denmark, is in San Francisco (across from Oakland).[1] In 1915, Carl Gronenberg applied for a U.S. passport, and in his application he stated that he was born in Saelskor (a variation of Skjelskor).[2] The location of the postmark on this envelope, by itself, could give a genealogist a clue on where to start searching for the birthplace of Carl Gronenberg.

1 1900 U.S. census, California, San Francisco County, San Francisco, ED 191, p. 9A, NARA series T623, roll 105.
2 U.S. passport application 11615, date of issue 23 November 1915, NARA series M1490.


How-to Search the Database

In the Main Menu, click on Search Database. Each envelope and postcard in the database is classified by the recipient's name and address, the sender's name and address, and the postmark's date and location, and includes a photograph. An item may not have complete information in all fields. When browsing, the envelopes and postcards are arranged in alphabetic order by the recipient's family name. When browsing, you see only the recipient's name and address and the postmark date and location. To see an item's full details and a photograph, click on Recipient's Name or View. You may also search by entering a name, location, etc., in the search box.

We hope that one of these envelopes or postcards will connect someone in your family tree to a location or person that expands what you know about your family. Please let us know if you find something on this web site that helps you by emailing us. We are seeking volunteers to help add new material to the site. Please contact us if you are willing to help. More envelopes and postcards will be added as we find them. Please contact us if you have an envelope or postcard that you would like to add to this web site.

If you have an envelope or postcard in your postal history collection and would like a genealogist to help you learn about the sender or the addressee, send us a photograph and we'll see what we can find.

Click here to contact us.