Lost Art of Letters and Diaries

The art of letter writing is becoming a talent of the past. Correspondences between family and friends is now replaced by emails and Skype and instant messaging. How will this impact future generations when they want to understand the world we live in today? Our world no longer values cursive writing or a man’s signature marking his word or contract. Our  younger generations do not know how to properly sign their names because they are not being taught cursive writing in school.  All of these skills are lost to the computer age.

Letters and diaries give researchers a first hand account about lives past. Personal ideas and reflections of life as one experiences it.  Thoughts and feelings scribbled onto now aged yellowed fragile paper.  As technology propels us forward, paper gives way to intangible clouds. Are we losing a valuable link to answer questions future generation will ask about us?

Letter writing and diary keeping is an art. It is a space where someone can record their thoughts and feelings about their lives, hopes and worries. Ideas written in personalized handwriting, printed or cursive.  The creative squiggles of cursive writing decorates the page with personality and wit. These personal accounts allow the reader to understand “life as usual” and intimate details about love and devotion. It is all about life as someone experiences it.

Sallie Myers

Salome Meyers

Tillie Pierce

Tillie Pierce

The diaries of Tillie Pierce Alleman and Salome Meyers Stewart discuss life before during and after the Civil war at Gettysburg. Learning intimate details about these women’s lives brought Gettysburg and its people to life.  These accounts helped me create characters who would have seamlessly fit into Gettysburg during that time. Letters from the southern point of view, from Richard Henry Watkins to his wife Mary revealed his devotion to his family and home. Richard wrote about the farm and business dealings before talking about personal issues to Mary. Through these first hand accounts, I understood how they saw the war. Richard treated the war as an inconvenience, while Tillie and Salome expressed fear and worry about how their lives may change. Reading their words helped me understand the events through their eyes.

Hand written letters are becoming a lost art. How will future researchers understand history through our eyes? Will these records exist for future researchers to understand our lives as we see it or will it be gone forever?

 

The Ties of the Past: The Gettysburg Diaries of Salome Meyer Stewart, 1854-1922

At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle: A True Narrative by Tillie Pierce Alleman

Send Me an Old Pair of Boots & Kiss my Little Girls – The Civil War Letters of Richard and Mary Watkins 1861-1865 Jeff Toalson, editor 

 

Richard and Mary Watkins 1890

Richard and Mary Watkins 1890