New York Times: An Online Museum Shows Life During Wartime

New York Times: An Online Museum Shows Life During Wartime. “American forces were stationed in Vietnam when Col. George S. Patton, the son of the famed World War II general, recorded that chilling message to his wife, Joanne, in 1968. As troops moved east of the Lai Khê base into an area called the Catcher’s Mitt, a lone fighter fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an American armored personnel carrier, killing a gunner and grievously wounding another soldier….That recording is being made public for the first time in the collection of a new history museum dedicated to wartime correspondence by American service members. The Museum of American War Letters, as it is known, opened Sunday, a day before National Vietnam War Veterans Day.”

CNN: Rare ‘locked’ letter sealed 300 years ago is finally opened virtually

CNN: Rare ‘locked’ letter sealed 300 years ago is finally opened virtually. “Three hundred years ago, before envelopes, passwords and security codes, writers often struggled to keep thoughts, cares and dreams expressed in their letters private. One popular way was to use a technique called letter locking — intricately folding a flat sheet of paper to become its own envelope. This security strategy presented a challenge when 577 locked letters delivered to The Hague in the Netherlands between 1689 and 1706 were found in a trunk of undelivered mail.”

‘Look after yourself my darling’: poignant letters salvaged from 1941 shipwreck (The Guardian)

The Guardian: ‘Look after yourself my darling’: poignant letters salvaged from 1941 shipwreck. “The fragments of a 1941 love letter to a woman named Iris, found nearly three miles under the ocean in a shipwreck, have been painstakingly pieced together by experts, 80 years after it was posted….The letter is one of 717 that were never delivered by the cargo ship, the SS Gairsoppa, which was destined for the US. The ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland by a German U-boat on 16 February 1941. Of the 86 crew on board, only one survived.”

Library of Congress: William Farquhar Correspondence and Other 19th Century Malay Letters Now Online at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress: William Farquhar Correspondence and Other 19th Century Malay Letters Now Online at the Library of Congress. “The Library of Congress today announced the digitization of 46 Malay letters from the 19th century, mainly from Malay kings and Southeast Asian notables to William Farquhar, a pioneering British colonial administrator in Singapore (1819-1823), providing online access to an important resource on the founding of that country.”

The Guardian: Dutch exhibition offers new insight into Berbice slave uprising

The Guardian: Dutch exhibition offers new insight into Berbice slave uprising. “The Dutch national archives are showcasing a unique set of letters sent by the leader of the first organised slave revolt on the American continent to a colonial governor, in which the newly free man proposed to share the land. The offer from the man known as Cuffy, from Kofi – meaning ‘born on Friday’ – is said to provide a new insight into attempts to resist the brutal regimes of the colonial period, often overlooked in histories of enslaved people.”

Faculty note: Prof. Nesvet at the Keats Letters’ Project: Keats in Quarantine (University of Wisconsin Green Bay)

University of Wisconsin Green Bay: Faculty note: Prof. Nesvet at the Keats Letters’ Project: Keats in Quarantine. “Last month, UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Rebecca Nesvet (English) and a few other Romanticists from around the world were invited to publish brief creative and critical reactions to the final surviving letter of the Romantic poet John Keats, which he dated November 30, 1820—200 years ago today.”

KMBC: In Santa’s mailbag, a peek into children’s pandemic worries

KMBC: In Santa’s mailbag, a peek into children’s pandemic worries. “Jim, from Taiwan, slipped a face mask inside the greeting card he sent to Santa and marked “I (heart) u.” Alina, 5, asked in her Santa letter written with an adult’s help that he please use the front door when he drops in, because the back door is reserved for Grandma and Grandpa to minimize their risk of contamination. And spilling out her heavy little heart to ‘Dear Father Christmas,’ 10-year-old Lola wrote that she is wishing ‘that my aunt never has cancer again and that this virus no longer exists.’”

Creative Boom: A new tool by Pentagram’s Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell grows letterforms from fungi

Creative Boom: A new tool by Pentagram’s Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell grows letterforms from fungi. “We thought we’d seen it all. Until that is, Pentagram partners Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell designed an interactive web tool that allows us to cultivate and download letterforms (and much more) by stimulating the mycelium growth found in fungi.”

MIT Technology Review: Letter-writing staved off lockdown loneliness. Now it’s getting out the vote.

MIT Technology Review: Letter-writing staved off lockdown loneliness. Now it’s getting out the vote.. “Of course, there’s nothing new about writing letters. But a combination of social distancing measures and a volatile political year has made the traditional act of putting pen to paper suddenly more attractive than just shooting an email or an emoji-filled text. Beyond Instagram-fueled social projects for people in quarantine, letter writing has become a form of retro-political activism to help get out the vote.”

BBC: Anonymous letters providing solace in the pandemic

BBC: Anonymous letters providing solace in the pandemic. “When the letter arrived at Daniel Guzmán’s doorstep, it provided him with a glimmer of hope during one of the hardest moments of his life. ‘Keep going, when this is all over, you will walk out of the house with your head held high and your heart willing to give the best of you,’ it read. It was signed simply ‘Niña Peregrina’ (Spanish for ‘Wandering Girl’) Niña Peregrina’s was one one of hundreds of letters that have been exchanged by complete strangers in the Colombian city of Medellín during the country’s months-long quarantine.”

Smithsonian: Before Chain Letters Swept the Internet, They Raised Funds for Orphans and Sent Messages From God

New-to-me, from Smithsonian: Before Chain Letters Swept the Internet, They Raised Funds for Orphans and Sent Messages From God. “The 900-plus chain letters in folklorist Daniel VanArsdale’s digital archive range from the conventional—an 1896 fundraiser for a Louisville orphanage and a 1982 note urging recipients to relay the contents onward or suffer devastating consequences—to the unexpected, including a 1917 missive detailing how potential draftees could obtain conscientious objector status, a 1940 postcard calling for those addressed to ship handkerchiefs to strangers, and a 1986 petition advocating the boycott of Proctor and Gamble products adorned in ‘satanic symbol[s].’”

John Stevens Cooper Family Papers, PC.2190: Featuring a Soldier’s Letters to Wife Left in Charge of the Farm, Family, and Slaves, 1863–1865 (State Archives of North Carolina)

State Archives of North Carolina: John Stevens Cooper Family Papers, PC.2190: Featuring a Soldier’s Letters to Wife Left in Charge of the Farm, Family, and Slaves, 1863–1865. “The John Stevens Cooper Family Papers (PC.2190) are remarkable for the series of letters from John to his wife, Elizabeth, while he served in the Confederate military in 1863 and 1864. This correspondence sheds light on John’s recognition of the fact that, in his absence, Elizabeth knew what was best for managing their farm and slaves. His letters further illuminate his homesickness, his lack of faith in the Southern cause, and, in two notable instances, his desolation upon encountering the enemy.”

Columbia Missourian: SHSMO concludes digitalizing World War II letter collection

Columbia Missourian: SHSMO concludes digitalizing World War II letter collection. “Staffers and volunteers at the State Historical Society of Missouri finished the almost four-year process this month, according to a SHSMO press release. The selection contains texts written by more than 3,000 people, men and women, from every state of the country. They were transcribed and scanned to the SHSMO website with the goal of making the work of researchers, scholars and visitors easier.”

France24: Marie-Antoinette and lover’s censored letters deciphered

France24: Marie-Antoinette and lover’s censored letters deciphered. “Love letters between the ill-fated French queen Marie-Antoinette and her lover, which contain key passeges rendered illegible by censor marks, have been deciphered using new techniques, the French National Archives said on Wednesday. The revealed passages are further confirmation of the steamy relationship between Marie-Antoinette and Count de Fersen, who were writing to each other two years after the 1789 French revolution.”

CNET: As jails and prisons face coronavirus, a new app tries to bridge the mail gap

CNET: As jails and prisons face coronavirus, a new app tries to bridge the mail gap. “More than half of all Americans have had a family member in jail or prison, according to a 2018 survey. Yet the cost of making phone calls with prisoners has skyrocketed, leaving families to bear the burden of hefty fees to get critical information past prison walls. Even sending mail to a prisoner can become expensive to families in need. Amid the urgent COVID-19 crisis in jails and prisons, a nonprofit tech company is stepping up to help bridge the communications gap between those behind bars and their loved ones outside.”