So how in the WORLD can eBay make you a more effective teacher?

Okay, granted - you can find and bid on cool stuff on eBay that would be useful in the classroom. In the past, I've bought African masks for geography lessons, raw cotton bolls from a farm in Virginia to teach a lesson about the Cotton Gin and thousands of little golf pencils to use as emergency replacements when 8th graders "forget" their own and want to visit their lockers.

That's not what we're talking about today.

As it turns out, eBay is a tremendous source of historical images. A hundred years or so ago, photography was a new and trendy hobby. Personal cameras were incredibly popular! Everyone who could afford one bought a camera and started snapping everything in sight, then started subjecting their family and friends to endless slide shows and prints of shots they'd taken:

"Hey Stanley! You've GOT to see these pictures I took of my Model T! And here's another one! And ANOTHER one!!"

If you were one of these turn-of-the-century camera nuts, one of the best ways to subject the world to your photography was to have one of your pictures printed as a postcard. It was relatively cheap and postage was only a penny or so - not much even at the time.

Over time, fewer and fewer private people had their own postcards printed, but businesses and institutions continued to do it in really silly numbers.

Well, now it's a hundred years later and these postcards are collectible, but - and here's the key - not TOO collectible! So there are zillions of them for sale fairly cheaply on eBay.

Let's say you wanted to find pictures of Concord back before it was the scary, booming metropolis that it is today. All you would need to do is type, "Concord, NH" in the search box and let eBay do its thing.

Here are some of the images that came up the day I wrote this:



A postcard of St. Paul's School, circa 1910



Louis' Diner

(Where the Elite Meet To Eat?)



The State House in the 1940s



The Old Hampshire Steak House 

Presumably this was taken in the late 60s or early 70s.

Concord was a swinging place!

(If you liked steak.)

Most of these postcards aren't terribly valuable to the average person, so they are usually not very expensive, but even if you don't decide to buy one, it is really easy to copy one of these pictures for your own use. (Don't try to publish it or sell it for money and you are probably covered, copyright-wise.)

Just right-click the photo you want to save, then select the "Save Picture As..." option.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I suddenly feel like steak for lunch...