When We Wrote Letters

Thursday, February 07, 2013

George Goodwin Kilburne - Penning a letter

Seems there was a time, not that long ago, when everyone ran to the mailbox, knowing there might be something special waiting for them inside.

That time, however, has gradually been coming to an end, as more of us rely on email, texting, and Skype to communicate.

It’s a reality that even the U.S. Postal Service recognizes. This week, they announced they’ll discontinue Saturday delivery.

But with the death of letters, are we losing something else as well? It’s a question that Martha Tuck Rozett has seriously considered. Martha is an English professor at the University of Albany and author of "When People Wrote Letters: A Family Chronicle."


Martha Tuck Rozett

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [8]

Mary Rodgers Liegeois from Yorktown Heights, NY

I have wonderful letters related to the search for my biological father, one year after the death of my mother in 1994. I was born in England to a single mother. We emigrated to the USA in the mid 50s and I thought my father had been killed during WWII in Africa. After writing to Queen Elizabeth and getting an actual letter back, his records were opened to me and my first letter from him read: "How do you say hello to a daughter you never knew existed?". He was very much alive and we met on many occasions since 1996 until his death in 2004. I treasure all his letters to me, and thank him for giving me several brothers and sisters and an extended family. His words in his letters live on in my heart.

Feb. 11 2013 03:31 PM
Eric Harris from DeLand, FL

I was struck when listening to yesterdays piece on letter writing, that there was no importance given to engraved stationery. The almost lost art of engraving paper is dying faster than letter writing. There is no feeling so heartfelt as receiving a thick natural envelope with an engraved letter inside.

Feb. 08 2013 12:43 PM

We estimate over 40B letters past are unaccounted for in the digital world, which puts them at risk from preservation or in some cases never being shared socially for family and future generations. The cloud platform for letters called lettrs.com is bringing new technology to bear to not only restore letters past but reinvent new letters, deliverable via paper post or in the cloud. Letter writing is not dying; it is just evolving as still a timeless and valued medium for meaningful correspondence. The larger question is how will we find time to write when so many other distractions are in our midst. Letter will always matter because people do.

lettrs, for people who wish to think about what they write. Saving letters past to inspire new letters today.

Feb. 08 2013 11:20 AM
Samme Chittum from Sonora, Mexico

This is a moving and well-written book that many will enjoy. It will surely provoke thought about what is being lost as letter writing dies out.

I recently found a collection of family letters saved by my late mother, Ida Chittum, an author of children's stories who saved her own children's letters. We were quite a scribbling family, writing letters to our parents and one another, beginning in kindergarten, and proceeding onto letters from camp, college and so on, into our adult years. Reading them provided an illuminating look back at the what moved and preoccupied us, and how we supported and cared about one another in ways large and small.

Feb. 07 2013 06:59 PM
Lynas from Manhattan

I am writing a letter at this very moment as a continuations of a 45 year correspondence with a college friend. I have saved all his letters in a folder 3 inches thick.

Feb. 07 2013 03:50 PM
Judith Dedenbach Redman from Detroit

You become a different person after writing a letter.

It is some trace of the soul on paper.

Moments for the mind to consider... the pen's universe.

Feb. 07 2013 01:19 PM
Kay Merkel Boruff from Dallas

Letters from my husband Jon Merkel (Sai-Gon, Viet-Nam) to me in (Bangkok, Thailand,) before I joined him in 1968. Jon died flying for Air America 18 Feb 70 in Laos. Several of our letters are included in the TCU Press LOVE & WAR: 250 YEARS OF WARTIME lOVE & LETTERS (Susan Besze Wallace). Jon & Kay and George & Martha. Letters saved for my niece Rojji to know her uncle. Priceless.

Feb. 07 2013 12:53 PM
Adrienne Strubank from detroit Mi

I attended a funeral for a friend of my parents ,he was a veteran of World War Two and a monkey pictures that were on poster boards around the funeral home what is a written letter from his father during the winter of 1944
is children found the letter among his personal things
it was clear to understand what the meaning of that written word to be able to have read it over and over meant to this man
more than just the catching up and letting him know that everything was okay back in the good US of A the way that the letter was signed, I remain as always your loving dad

Feb. 07 2013 12:26 PM

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