Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Letters from the Past

Abial Hall Edwards
I came across an interesting account of some old letters that chronicled the romance of a Civil War soldier and his future wife. The story about the letters of Abial Hall Edwards and Anna Lucinda Conant is on the blog "Maine at War." (I can't find the name of the blog's author on there; maybe I'm just not looking closely enough.)

The blog post is based on a book, “Dear Friend Anna,” published by the University of Maine Press and edited and published by Anna's great-granddaughter, Beverly Hayes Kallgren, and history professor James L. Crouthamel.

“You know not with what pleasure your letters are read and how eagerly they are watched for,” Edwards wrote more than 150 years ago.
Anna Lucinda Conant

Anna saved those letters, and her great-granddaughter recognized their value enough to also save them and to have them published.

I hate to sound so old-fashioned and such, but what will the future hold without letters from the 21st century? Oh, sure, there will be some, mostly from those of us on these blogs. But, there don't seem to be many of us. How much of our history will we lose because there are no letters? Will emails, texts, Facebook postings survive to tell our stories? How?

What do you think? Let me know.

In the meantime, keep on writing letters!


Jenny said...

I think there are still people who write letters. You just don't hear about them until the treasures are found like these were. I also think journals might become more important as time goes on. There are still many people who keep them.

My husband wrote letters back forth to his grandmother from the time he was about 3 yrs old until she passed away a few yrs ago - over 40 yrs. He kept most of them as an adult & they are such treasures. When she died, he pulled out boxes of them to read & shared one of his favorites at her funeral. They were everyday things: what was growing in her garden, who she saw in town, what a family member was doing. When our son was small she always added a special note to him telling him what her dog & cat were doing. So precious! it really was a family event to see her letters in our mailbox. We always sat down together to read them out loud.

Both my husband & I write letters still. I try to write to someone at least once a week.

Love your blog!

Limner said...

More people write than we are aware of. I check out people with me in the post office. I see personal letters, and cards among the packages waiting to be mailed. I smile. My mother, my older sister, and my youngest who recently passed away are keepers of letters.

I believe letter-writers never die; they just get younger. My newest letter is from an eight year old. She writes cursive now.

I have an old letter from the Social Security Admin. regarding my grandfather's pension. He fought in WWI. It's priceless.

Sabrina said...

Oh god, that's a good question. I think about that all the time. Sometimes I even wonder if some day someone will find my letters and learn a little about the world as it is today.

I'm not sure what will happen with digital letters or messages. But to tell you the truth, I think the internet is a fragile thing. Websites close, hackers mess it up, stuff like that. I like to have valuable information (valuable for me anyway) in my hands. That's why I buy books. Not e-books.

kryptogirl said...

Such a lovely question and great responses above. I remember sending my great grandmother a few sunflower seeds in the post for her galahs. Her letters back would be written from the birds' perspective. So special. Although I don't think it's wise to send loose seeds in the post these days!

Limner said...

I think more people write letters than we realize. Our postoffice is certainly busy enough, and I know some of the mail being picked up is personal correspondence. Once in a while I sit in the parking lot and watch people coming and going between letters of my own, and I see mail art! Letter writers are a silent majority. :) I also believe that some of the e-mails we write today will pop up in books in the future. What we write never goes away. Right? Forty or fifty years from now someone will read what we've written about the subject. Wish I could stick around to witness it. :)

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