Your autobiography or memoir may benefit when you add vintage letters from ancestors or colleagues from a past era. Universal Letter Writing Week spans from January 8-14, 2023, and reminds us all that handwritten missives capture sentiments and style that should never be lost to time.
In an age of digital communication, it’s good to know that Universal Letter Writing Week encourages long-form, pen-to-paper letter writing. Many authors remember a time in history when there was no internet; letter writing was the only means to communicate “long distance.” This “old-school” type of outreach is nearly a lost art form today, with computer-generated letters and emails becoming the standard.
Yet, there is something charming and even nostalgic about sending and receiving letters and practicing penmanship skills that are rarely taught in public schools anymore.
Placing an Extra Lens in Your Autobiography
A treasure trove of information can be found in the letters we find in attics and storage boxes. Sharing these letters from yesteryear can elevate your autobiography by creating a portal into the past. Did your great-grandmother write love letters to your great-grandfather? Did an uncle write to congress? Did a young girl in Ireland write letters to her relatives in America in anticipation of immigrating?
The perspectives of days gone by, written at a desk with a plume and dipped ink — or charcoal or graphite — help preserve angles and slices of history and provide a “look back” that is sorely needed in our fast-paced, highly technical world.
If you are the lucky recipient (or keeper) of old letters and have permission or own the copyright, perhaps including a bird’s-eye view of history will benefit your autobiography, especially if it ties into what made you who you are today. By the way, generally, works that are a hundred years old or older fall into the public domain.
Old letters can be scanned or transcribed. Some are photographed. Your publisher or book formatter can include them wherever they belong in your manuscript.
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