Postcarding Lower Styria

Nation, Language, and Identities on Picture Postcards 1885-1920

The POLOS online archive contains a collection of postcards from around 1890–1920 from the Spodnja Štajerska/Untersteiermark/Lower Styria region in modern-day Slovenia. Up until 1918, this region was a part of Styria, a crown land of the Habsburg Monarchy, and was inhabited by speakers of both German and Slovene. During this period, the golden era of the picture postcard coincided with a high point in tensions between Germans and Slovenes, which some scholars refer to as nationalist conflicts.

The postcards in these collections provide some insight into the realities of everyday life and language use among those living in this multilingual region. The combination of images, printed text, official notes, and handwritten messages found on postcards offer different layers of information that can be used to research these phenomena. For example, images demonstrate how the region was perceived or how people wished it to be perceived, while handwritten messages often demonstrate how individuals saw themselves, how they structured their everyday lives, and what they identified themselves with. The variety of ways languages were used on these postcards can also provide insight into language practices, which were characterized by Slovene (a language still in the process of being standardized), German, and various forms of German-Slovene language contact.

POLOS is therefore a tool that can be used to explore the shared history of Slovenes and Germans in this region. It also allows for complex search inquiries based on the textual and visual components found in these postcards.

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