Thursday, August 29, 2013

Letters to the kids

It's back-to-school time across most of the U.S., and people of all ages are headed back to the
classroom. From the kindergartner just getting started to the 50-year-old going back to get a higher degree, students can be stressed out about what lies ahead.

This is a great time to perfect the short, uplifting letter format. For the youngsters, such a "letter" doesn't have to be in the traditional form at all. It can be just a note, even a simple friendly phrase, such as "I'm thinking of you," or a short joke:
Q. What is the difference between a school teacher and a train?

A. The teacher says spit your gum out, and the train says "chew, chew!”
For the older kids going off to college, a longer letter of encouragement would be appropriate. And, for the non-traditional student returning to school after a long absence, a nice card would brighten his or her day.

Melissa over at the blog 320 Sycamore has a great list of jokes to include in kids' lunch boxes. You'll need to click on the link in her blog post to get to the jokes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blog About A Collection of Letters

Lisa Smith writes The Sloane Letters Blog, a site about the correspondence of Sir Hans Sloane, an eighteenth-century physician, botanist and collector.

The blog includes many interesting tidbits from the letters, as well as several links to other sites of historical nature.

It's an interesting read.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

'Snail mail is cool'

"Snail mail is cool," 10-year-old Eloise Barrett is quoted as saying in an article about pen pals in the "Hills News."

Eloise lives in Australia, and she and her schoolmates at Galston Public School were matched with pen pals in Ireland.

"The kids found it really interesting because they found they had things in common," said their teacher Jackie Payne.

Check out the story through the above link for more about how the younger generation enjoys letter writing when they have a chance to experience it!

(Clip art courtesy of

Monday, August 26, 2013

Two of my favorite things — Girl Scouts and letters!

Here's a great story about some Girl Scouts who collected 610 thank you letters to show appreciation
for UNICEF workers. The girls are from Garden City, N.Y.

Click that link above to read the entire, inspiring story!

Friday, August 23, 2013

New stamp commemorates March on Washington

Today, the U.S. Postal Service issued a new stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

On Aug. 28, 1963, nearly a quarter of a million people came together in Washington, DC, to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was then that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. 

According to the USPS website, the 1963 March on Washington stamp is the last of three stamps issued this year as part of a civil rights series commemorating courage, strength and equality in America. The first Forever stamp marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in January, while the second Forever stamp honored Rosa Parks on the 100th anniversary of her birth in February.

In addition to offering the March on Washington stamp, the UPS also has T-shirts, commemorative panels, keepsake sets and more.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sixty Years of Round-Robin Letters

The summer edition of the Colby College magazine features an article on a group of 11 women who graduated from Colby (in Waterville, Maine) in 1952 and started a round-robin letter-writing circle.

Sixty years later, they're still writing letters.

It seems there are several different ways a round-robin can work. For the group in the story, it seems that each one writes a letter, adds it to an envelope with the other letters she just received and mails the package on to the next in line. When the package makes it way back to each letter writer, she takes out her last letter, reads all of the other new letters and adds her own new letter before sending it on again.

Other round-robins seem more formal, while some are less organized. Have you ever participated in a round-robin letter-writing project? How did it work?

(Clip art courtesy of

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Great blog post about the letter that was never sent

Ashley Woods writes in her blog on The Huffington Post about the letter she wishes she would've written to author Elmore Leonard, who died yesterday at the age of 87.

It's not just a great commentary on Leonard, but it's also an encouragement to sit down and write that letter (or letters) you've been meaning to write. Especially important are the letters that tell someone how much they mean to you, how they've influenced your life, how you're so happy to have met them.

If you've been putting off writing an important letter, set a goal. Today is Wednesday...set the goal to put that letter in the mail on Monday. That gives you a few days to make sure you have everything you need, stationery, stamps, address. Then, you have the weekend to actually write the letter. On Monday morning, drop that letter in the mailbox on your way to work, school or the market.

Don't wait until it's too late to say (or, in this case, write) the feelings that are in your heart.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letter Collecting

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about collecting literature, including letters and postcards.

The article mentioned a Sotheby's auction earlier this summer in which the collection of letters and a manuscript by David Foster Wallace sold for $125,000. The original estimate for the sale had been $10,000 to $15,000.

It seems that those who collect such things are quite serious about it.

Even if you don't have the funds to collect such pricy papers, you can go to sites, such as Sotheby's and look at many of the items online. Other online collections are found at universities, such as the University of Houston, which has many items for viewing in its Digital Library.

Collecting letters and other papers can be almost addicting, I'm sure. If you love ephemera, history, etc., it can be difficult to imagine such items lost to world forever.

Do you collect or save letters, postcards or other papers?

This letter from Letter from Henry Cowing to Mary Jones, wife of the last president of the Republic of Texas, is in the University of Texas' Digital Library.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Writing interesting letters

I am always fascinated by the many different ways that people write letters. Most everyone, in their own unique way, makes every letter interesting. Some may not even realize that what they're doing adds to the quality of their letters.

I received a letter recently from a new penpal who, at the top of the letter, listed the music that was playing while the letter writer was writing. It was Opus 26 by Dustin O'Halloran. Listening to the same music that my penpal was listening to while the letter was being written just adds to the connection between the letter writer and the recipient.

Some letter writers draw pictures on the stationery, include clippings of recipes or cartoons, post the weather at their location, etc. Many decorate the envelope to turn it into mail art. Some use specific stamps to convey an added message.

Is there some little thing that you do, automatically or quite purposefully, to make your letters even more interesting to your recipients? Tell us about it!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Made in America Stamps

The contributions of America’s industrial-era workers are memorialized on a new sheet of Forever stamps titled Made in America: Building a Nation. The stamps, which feature black-and-white photographs of early 20th-century industrial workers, were dedicated at the Department of Labor today by Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, according to the USPS website.

“With Labor Day around the corner, the Postal Service is proud to honor the men and women who helped build this country with their own hands,” Donahoe said. “They mined the coal that warmed our homes. They made the clothes we wore on our backs. Let each stamp serve as a small reminder of the dedication, work ethic, and sacrifices that make America great.”

The pane features 12 stamps, each showing a different man or woman hard at work. In the top row, from left to right, are an airplane maker; a derrick worker on the Empire State Building; a millinery apprentice; and a laborer on a hoisting ball at the Empire State Building.

In the middle row, from left to right, are a linotyper in a publishing house; a welder on the Empire State Building; a coal miner; and riveters on the Empire State Building.

In the bottom row, from left to right, are a powerhouse mechanic; a railroad track walker; a textile worker; and a crew member guiding a beam on the Empire State Building.

Eleven of the stamp images were taken by photographer Lewis Hine, who is famous for his work which helped tell the story of early 20th-century laborers. There also are five stamp sheets available, each with a different photo in the selvage area, or area outside the stamps, on the sheet. The coal miner appears again on a selvage, along with three additional Hine photos. A Margaret Bourke-White photo of a female welder is also featured. Visit to view the Made in America: Building a Nation video.

The commemorative First-Class Mail Forever stamps are 46 cents each and are offered as a pane of 12 stamps.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Young Czech writer wins letter-writing contest

Fifteen-year-old Daniel KorĨak, from Ostrava, Czech Republic, recently won the Universal Postal Union's 42nd International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People.

His letter was written to the central European river the Oder. The 2013 contest asked budding writers to explain why water is a precious resource.

Daniel Korcak with his mother (left) and sister.
According to the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, the gold-medal winner, who captivated the international jury with his simple, creative and innovative prose, said,
"I thought that many students would write a letter to a person, so I decided to write my letter directly to water."

"In the river you create, we bathe, fish, children play with you when building stone dams, athletes on boats struggle against your power, and many seek peace and quiet in your whisper... near your river, there is your sister, healing water, which... waits to be carried to the nearby spa where it helps heal our ailments," wrote Daniel.
According to the UNRIC site, UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein said: "Communication is at the heart of the postal activity and, in a sea of digital messages, it remains critical for young people to understand the importance of the written word and the structured composition and recognize the emotions and call to action good writing can elicit. Postal services support literacy and communication, and we are delighted that our competition touches so many young people."

An estimated 1.5 million young people from 60 countries participated in this 42nd letter-writing contest, which aims to raise awareness of the role postal services play in our societies, help young people develop their skills in composition and the ability to express their thoughts.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...