U.S. postal cards were issued for the first time in 1873, almost ten years after they were originally introduced in Austria.
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Resources

To find the originating sources for much of the material on this site and many more related primary sources, please refer to these trusted websites:

The history of transportation and communication in the American West has been well-researched and documented in published (secondary source) books. These books are recommended by the Postal Museum curators to help teachers get a stronger content background:

Adams, John. Ocean Steamers: A History of Ocean-Going Passenger Steamships, 1820-1970

Arnell, J. C. Steam and the North Atlantic Mails: The Impact of the Cunard Line and Subsequent Steamship Companies on the Carriage of Transatlantic Mails 

Hafen, Le Roy R. and David Dary. The Overland Mail, 1849-1869: Promoter of Settlement Precursor of Railroads

Holmes, Kenneth L. and Anne M. Bulter Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 (Covered Wagon Women) 

John, Richard R. Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse

Ornsby, Waterman L. Butterfield Overland Mail 

Pinkerton, Robert E. and Paul Lantz. The First Overland Mail 

Scheele, Carl H. A Short History of the Mail Service 

Scheele, Carl H. with the collaboration of Constance Minkin. Neither Snow, nor Rain…: the Story of the United States Mails

Taylor, Morris F. First Mail West: Stagecoach Lines on the Santa Fe Trail 

Tompkins, G. C. A Compendium of the Overland Mail Company on the South Route, 1858-1861 and the Period Surrounding It