In the early 1900’s, images of Native American Boarding Schools were circulating around the United States in the form of postcards. My CHI project, Mapping Native American Boarding School Postcards, explores how far these images were traveling. 

Why postcards?

Postcards are interesting because they are, by their nature, public. Unlike letters, they are not hidden in envelopes. Postcards featuring Native American Boarding Schools challenge the narrative that the Native American Boarding Schools were hidden from the American public. They suggest that the Boarding Schools were integrated into American society. 

I designed my CHI project to be an opportunity rather than an argument. I intended it to be an opportunity for website visitors to engage with one type of historical material culture and ask questions. The map I created helps website visitors engage with materials spatially and geographically. Distance is important. 

When I’ve shown friends, family, and colleagues the Postcard Map, everyone has questions…and they’re GOOD questions that demonstrate genuine engagement with historical materials. 

My CHI project was built using Leaflet maps, and a Bootstrap website template. The landing page was created on Canva. I purchased postcards from eBay, and they are now part of my personal collection. Text, names, and opening and closing dates for each School is copied from the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition interactive digital map (Interactive Digital Map of Indian Boarding Schools – The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition)

I will continue exploring this type of material culture and developing research questions.