Sunday, April 4, 2010

Reading Other Peoples Mail

Now, based on the topic title of this post of "Reading Other Peoples Mail", you might think I'm talking about grabbing your neighbours mail from next door and opening it to see what bills they got. No, I'm not even talking about reading a personal letter addressed to someone who used to live in your house - I'm talking about reading letters that belonged to people more than fifty years ago.

At the auction that my husband and I went to on Friday, we bought A LOT of things pertaining to philately or stamp collecting. First Day Covers, Stamps, Envelopes, etc. Among the lots we purchased were several letters from 1900 - 1950.

In my opinion, reading through them is reading a piece of history in regards to people who are no longer alive. In my husbands opinion, it's being nosy and offensive. I found the letters fascinating and would love to post scans of the envelopes, letters and stamps here on my blog - would this offend a lot of people, or are you just as curious as I am?

I find that its of historical relevance. These letters talk about love, war, good times and bad times and give us a look into how people wrote letters at the turn of the century. How did letter writing then differ from how we write letters now? What was important to write about? How were letters adressed, ended, etc.?

What do you guys think? I need input!


The Missive Maven said...

I think posting the letters here sounds like a lovely idea; I'm particularly interested in seeing how handwriting styles have changed through the decades.

However, I'd caution you to ascertain that the ages/timeframes ensure that the writer and recipient are now in the ages of history. It is entirely possible that the writers and readers of letters in the 1940s are still alive today; out of respect to them, I would suggest posting only the earlier letters for now (unless you can be sure the writer/reader in a letter from, say, 1943, was already over 30 or so). That's my two cents, anyway.

panykattack said...

I agree with Maven. Do a little research to make sure you aren't invading the privacy of someone who is alive. Also, if there is something in a letter that you wouldn't want read by anyone after your death (especially strangers) I would not post that.

Otherwise I think it's a lovely idea!

Pam Hoffman said...

Gosh, I just found you from the swap-bot site and I don't really like to comment before I read more... usually.

I just wanted to let you know that this sounds quite interesting!

If it is long enough ago, I can't see any harm in it and those certainly seem old enough.

I'll come back and see what happens!

Pam Hoffman

SnailxMailxLover said...

I think it's a great idea to post the letters after doing some research!

I'm so fascinated by the certain style of writing from years ago.

Thanks for offering to share this with us!

Annie Nguyen

Maria Isabel said...

I write a lot of letters and emails. The ones I would rather no one else see, I burn or delete as soon as I am finished with it. I think people back in those times were the same. If they were saved I think it is because it contained something that the recipient found that was worth saving.

The Missive Maven said...

Maria Isabel - you make a good point, but recall that with letters (as with emails), once you send them, they're out of your hands. Letters usually rest with the recipient, not the sender.

Sometimes I wonder about what I might have said in letters, years ago, to people with whom I'm no longer in contact...

Anonymous said...

In the words of my ever-so-private and secretive aunt:

"Here is my story. You may read it and enjoy. But don't do anything with it until I'm dead!"

(my request to know about her for my Christmas gift last year)

I think it would be most interesting to track down the relatives of the people who belong to these letters originally. You could send them scans of the letters and talk to them about how they would feel about it being online. Granted, it was your purchase and you would have the right to post them (I feel), but if they wouldn't want you could be rude to do so without their best wishes.

BUT, if you don't go digging, there is a good chance no one would be offended. And you know we're all curious! :)

Fabi said...

I would do a little research to see if there is someone who could be unhappy about you posting the letters and then post some of them. Or maybe just parts of them which are not too private?

I mean when the letters were sold someone did have no problem with others reading them. I guess...

Jp in Ca said...

I think it's a great idea and especially like seeing handwriting from that time. But I do agree with others about privacy issues. Perhaps you could blur out last name, parts of addresses, etc.

Stephanie said...

Yes, I would do the research too before actually posting those letters.
Even if that person who wrote that letter might not be alive today their family member, or significant other might still be alive today.
Who knows.
I think it would be a fun adventure to do that research. And see what you discover from those letters. That is history.
Good luck with what you decide.

Elle.mental said...

I ran across your blog by visiting another blog
I enjoy all things having to do with letters and am a mail artist as well. If you get a chance come visit my blog at I have recently posted a blog entry on books of compiled correspondence, in particular Isak Dinesin's correspondence. If it is alright with you I would like to include you on a list of blogs I read. Thanks! Elle

Cheap 1300 Number said...

A snail mail is very important when it comes to long distance communication. We just need to observe privacy in other people's letter. :)


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