Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mystery Card [Missoula, Montana, 1912]

Maybe you can help us understand a little more about this old postcard.

This card was probably published in 1910 or 1911. Passenger rail service was just getting started on a new rail line from Chicago to Seattle across the northern part of the USA. This rail line had several names over the years, but for a short time, around the time this card was published, it was called Chicago, Milwaukee, and Puget Sound Railway. The card features an eastbound train arriving at the brand new Missoula, Montana, depot. One of the things we like about this card is the "sepia tone" ... the brownish tint that was common in some of the vintage photographs of this period. It is printed on heavy card stock, which even today would be considered high quality.

The card was mailed on January 19, 1912, to Miss Viola Jones, Grass Valley, California. The sender had some of the best handwriting we've ever seen as evidenced by the address part of the card, HOWEVER, the other half, the correspondence portion, is a mystery to us as it is written, we think, in shorthand. The art of shorthand may have just about disappeared today, but in 1912 it was used as a way to write down a lot very quickly. For example, it was used to record what people were saying in meetings. We copied the correspondence part of the card and turned it a little sideways to make it easier to read ... Can you tell us what it says, or, at least, what it is about?

Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound Depot
Missoula, Montana

Can you read the shorthand?
Thank you for stopping by John's Island.


  1. It's been a long time, John, since I tried to read shorthand, but I can make out several words. (It's in Gregg Simplified.) She says she owes Viola a (card?) and is practicing her shorthand and it will take some time. There's more, but it will take me quite a while to figure out some of the words. One she uses twice, right after the word "shorthand" and it looks like "crescents" but that makes no sense. I'll spend some time with it and let you know what I can figure out, unless somebody else does it first! :-)

  2. imagine the day when you only needed a name and city. How the world has changed in a hundred years.

  3. djan's got more remembering skills than i! haven't used shorthand since i learned it in high school. :)

  4. Wonderful card, but oh me. I don't remember any of my shorthand!

  5. It's been too long since I took shorthand, but obviously the writer was sending it to person who also knew the shorthand. I had to take the class back when everybody thought you had to either be married, be a nurse, or be a secretary and take shorthand.

  6. I learned shorthand in school too but Djan remembered it better than I did. : )

  7. Wow! That shorthand is pretty neat to see--but I would be clueless as to its meaning. My grandma has told me that she got her first job as a secretary because she knew shorthand. Neat card!


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