Paying homage to the art of letter- writing.
WHEN was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? When was the last time you received one?
Letter-writing is fast becoming a thing of the past, but the trend towards exclusively digital literacy may be missing out on a form of communication integral to our history.
Letters comprise our written history. They detail family relationships, friendships and disputes, political treaties and alliances and significant events in our cultural history. Letters are preserved from the time of ancient India, ancient Egypt and Sumer, through Rome, Greece and China, making up several of the books of the Bible and archives of correspondence. Whether for personal, diplomatic, or business reasons, they serve as primary sources for historians. Letter-writing has changed significantly since the 19th century, when paper letters were the only reliable means of communication between people in different locations. As communication technology has diversified, posting letters has been overtaken by sending emails.
New generations are learning about online etiquette and managing the individual digital identity, but there is a whole etiquette to writing letters that we are losing forever, unless an effort is made to preserve it. In an effort to do just that, online homages to offline correspondence; specifically letters, are a growing trend. As we move further away from putting pen to paper, hand-written letters of note are fetching increasing prices at auction houses around the world.
Letters of Note is a photo blog that gathers and sorts fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes and memos from times past. Posting scans and photos with accompanying transcript, it is updated weekly and is consistently fascinating.
Giving you a peek into the lives of historical figures through their private correspondence, you can read the handwritten correspondences ( and transcriptions) of Frank Sinatra and Ernest Hemingway, Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and more.
Blog creator Shaun Usher has a strong nostalgia for letters. His other letter nostalgia blog, Letterheady, is a collection of beautiful letterheads ( just the blank letterheaded page, without content), scanned or photographed, and uploaded. Those featured include Disney, Houdini, Frank Zappa and yes, Hitler; it’s a fascinating exercise in design communication. The design of the written letter is a social institution in itself. Not many of us are taught the correct composition of a business letter, a personal letter or a thank-you letter any more. We may RSVP via email or SMS and we are more likely to Skype video-chat with a family member overseas than draft even an email.
When was the last time you received a letter?