Librarian Marcus Ladd displays one of his favorite postcards from Miami University’s collection. Image: WXVU

Before people shared pictures and messages on social media, they used postcards to communicate with friends and family.

Now Miami University is giving these cards a new life.

In 2013, the university began cataloging and digitizing more than half a million postcards — and each one’s unique history — in a special collection.

The cards are valuable research tools, according to Marcus Ladd, a digital librarian for the university.

“[They’re] just a tremendous resource as far as popular culture goes — plus what people are actually talking to each other about,” he told radio station WVXU recently.

The collection features many donations from Clyde Bowden, an enthusiast who enjoyed picking up postcards during his childhood vacations.

“I guess it kind of got my grandmother a little upset. She said, ‘I didn’t understand why he wanted to stop and get all these postcards,’” Bowden recalled.

What was it about the cards that he found so intriguing?

“Apparently because I’m interested in geography,” he said with a chuckle.