The POLOS Image Archive was created as part of the FWF-Project P-28950-G28 Postcarding Nation, Language and Identities: Lower Styria on Picture Postcards 1885-1920 at the Institute for Slavic Studies at the University of Graz, and was made possible with the help of ZIM-ACDH. POLOS is associated with other image archives as part of VASE: Visual Archive of Southeastern Europe.


The collection contains approximately 2300 postcards, which have been made available by both public and private partners. These postcards include both textual and visual elements (non-illustrated postcards are not included), and they also exhibit language or content relevant to the project's research goals. The collection emphasizes both linguistic questions and questions regarding identity and nationalism in Lower Styria. This encompasses postcards containing, among others, some sort of national framing (either national tensions or neutral references to national groups), clear national allegiances in images or inscriptions, or pejoratives referring to a national group or community. Postcards featuring what today would be considered bilingual or diglottic language use, code switching, or any other form of language contact and unusual language use have been incorporated. The collection also attempts to include as many towns, villages, and hamlets in the region as possible without deviating from the original research aims. Thus, the collection makes use postcards as both visual and textual primary sources.

Notes about Search Terms


The term Location indicates the place depicted on the postcard. In the Postcard view, the current Slovene place name is given, followed by the historical German place name in parenthesis, and if applicable, the historical Slovene place name. The location name is linked to a query that can be used to display other postcards associated with that location.


Determining an exact period for a postcard is relatively complex. It can be dated either by the date the postcard was sent or by its (precise or estimated) production date. These periods or dates may differ in some cases as, for example, when postcards are sent years after they were produced. The POLOS database specifies the date the postcard was mailed. If this is not possible, the production date (or an estimated production period) is indicated instead. The terms Sent and Produced have been used to indicate whether a postcard was dated according to the date it was mailed or when it was produced.

Language: Title

Both German and Slovene were in use in Lower Styria during the period covered by POLOS. This is also reflected in the printed greetings of the time, which were in German, Slovene, or more than one language. Some items also contain other languages or language combinations. The selection of categories takes this into account by including Slovene, German, Bilingual, and Other Languages as markers.

Language: Message

Similarly to printed text, the handwritten messages on individual postcards are predominantly in German or Slovene, or have elements of both languages. In some cases, other languages were also used, including Latin, Czech, and Hungarian, among others. The category headings Slovene, German, SL&GE (Slovene and German) and Other Languages have been created to take this into account.

National Framing

The goal of POLOS is to detect the emergence of national categories of identifications among the general population as well as the consolidation and implementation of national thinking into everyday life. The search term National Framing allows for searches based on this aim. Brief comments have been added to items with this search term when they include some sort of national context or clear national allegiances expressed visually and/or textually. Such items were often produced by national associations and/or include national solidarity stamps created by these associations. A typical way of expressing such national beliefs was to cross out the inscriptions in one language and write a replacement in another language by hand.

Postcards with Specific Language Use

The search term Special Linguistic Features has been added to postcards that include bilingual language use, code switching, or any other form of language contact (e.g., hybrid lexical forms). It has also been added to postcards that include what from a modern-day perspective would be considered unusual language use. This can be dialectical, vernacular, substandard language use, noticeable vocabulary or lexical forms, or any other form of conspicuous style. Examples of these include language saturated with archaisms, dialectical varieties, new lexical forms introduced into Slovene between 1885 and 1920, and instances of word order, inflected forms, orthography, grammar, or graphemes that would today be considered incongruent, unusual, or non-standard. Brief comments have been added to explain why the item was marked as such.


All Keywords used in this category are based on the Outline of Cultural Materials, an ethnographic classification system of human behavior, social life, and customs, material culture, and human-ecological environments developed by the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a not-for-profit membership consortium founded at Yale University. The keywords refer exclusively to elements of the postcards' visual content and enable searches based on commonly used motifs.


In Lower Styria, bilingual postmarks were partially used. The language for individual postmarks is specified here for those dated before 1 December 1918.

  • Bilingual: All bilingual stamps up until 1918
  • German: All monolingual German stamps up until 1918
  • Illegible: Stamp not legible
  • SCS: All stamps used after 1 December 1918 in the State of Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes, and in the subsequent Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.


These include the publishers, printing houses, and/or photographers who produced postcards. Clicking on the name of a producer will link to all the postcards in the collection associated with that particular producer.


Some of the POLOS material has been transcribed if it is of interest or related to the project's research areas.

Region Sent To

All cards have been labeled according to where they were sent to in order to illustrate areas of communication. Postcards originating in or sent to the Habsburg Monarchy are marked according to the province sent to, and additional distinctions have been made between Europe and the rest of the world. Graz and Vienna are listed separately, as a sizable number of postcards were sent to these cities.