From the "Mailstrom"

Tidbits, this 'n' that from around the web about letters and letter-writing, selected by Lex editors, Gary and Lonna.


It's not just dogs (and the occasional cat)

July 6, 2024

About 6 years ago we had a blog post about seagulls attacking mail carriers in a city in Wales. That's not the only place where the birds consider postal (and other) deliveries to be a threat to their young during nesting season - here's a current story about the same thing happening in Cornwall.

"...the genius of abstract numerical magnitude..."

June 29, 2024

Collections of historical letters seem to most frequently focus on those of authors, and to some extent politicians. But here's an article about an online exhibit of more than 10,000 letters to and from Sir John Herschel, a 19th century British scientist active in a number of fields.

Looking forward to the mail

June 20, 2024

In the current issue we have an article from 70 years ago about how children whose parents taught them to write thank-you cards for gifts often go on to write letters as adults. Quite coincidentally, shortly before putting the issue in the mail we came across this article about a woman whose mother did just that about a decade earlier, and it encouraged a lifelong focus on writing letters.

Those scary trucks

June 13, 2024

Here's a blog from 2017 in which the blogger recounts the scary trips she made as a young child to her family's mailbox in upstate New York in the 1950s, despite the tractor-trailers going by on the highway.

Going the extra (379) miles

June 6, 2024

Here's another article about mail being delivered late, not quite through the usual process because the mail carrier drove way off his route - by well over 300 miles - to deliver letters accidentally found from 80 years ago.

Better late than never

May 30, 2024

Periodically there are articles about mail being delivered way late, by years or decades. Most commonly it's found somewhere and put back into the usual delivery process. In this case, however, the process was one started by whaling ships two or three centuries ago and continued for tourists today, and a slight problem (in the form of an address change) delayed delivery for 33 years.

Thinking deeper…with a new use for coffee?

May 22, 2024

Back a few years ago when people were suddenly trying to find ways to stay connected without the risk of in-person meeting, one student at the University of Toronto wrote this blog post, with lots of pictures, about her combination of letter-writing and art, often using coffee in (and on!) both.

"...the delicate art..."

May 13, 2024

As we've searched for vintage letters and quotes to include in issues of Lex, we've found that the farther back in time we're looking, the more the available material is mostly from the educated classes who were "literate." That changed over time, sometimes gradually, and sometimes, as this article describes, with a specific impetus for people who had seldom or never written letters to begin doing so.

"...postcards for the occasion..."

May 6, 2024 this case, the occasion was Easter in Russia a century or more ago.

"...a radical art form..."

April 28, 2024

The phrase "lost art of letter writing" isn't new - We've seen it in articles and essays dating back to the 19th century, and in recent years it's become a popular topic for columnists. Some of these writings are brief and say roughly the same things, some are longer with more substance, and occasionally there's one that's particularly detailed and extensive, such as this one. (We considered reprinting it in the magazine, but it would be so long that there wouldn't be room for much of anything else.)

"...the simple pleasures of letter writing..."

April 19, 2024

Many articles decry the lack of letter activity among young people - but here's a children's book about a sixth grader excited to participate in a pen pal program.

"...still relevant..."

April 10, 2024

A century or more ago guides to writing letters were common, usually with tips and examples for various types of letters - social, business, condolence, etc. They're still around, sometimes in the form of blog entries such as this one.

"...a source of delight..."

April 3, 2024

Various things can also be done with saved postcards, including using creativity to donate them without violating the privacy of the senders and receivers.

The evaporating peace

March 26, 2024

Various things can be done with letters someone has saved for a long time - they can made into a collage, returned to the letter writer's descendants, donated to a historical society (or a museum, especially if the writer was famous) - or they can be projected onto fog...

The look of the mail

March 19, 2024

Articles on mail delivery vehicles over the years are common, and we've featured some of the images in issues of Lex. This article, though, examines the changes in the uniforms of British mail carriers since the 18th century.

"...a thin card..."

March 11, 2024

Getting information from postcards isn't only for history buffs - here's an article about a school program to get postcards mailed to elementary school students in observance of Reading Month last year. And it even defines what a postcard is for those who've perhaps never received or even seen one!

Mini-memories add up

March 2, 2024

Many articles over the years have talked about how collections of letters - both the ones from famous people and the ones found in closets and attics - can give a greater understanding of history. But postcards can do that too - both civic and personal history.

Time and again

February 23, 2024

In the 1950s school pen pal programs matching students from differing countries were quite common, and it's likely that most matches lasted for a short time and faded away as the kids grew older. But not always, as this article shows.

Something fishy in the mail

February 14, 2024

Through the years people have sent various articles through the mail other than letters, postcards, and traditional packages. (We featured a thong sandal sent to Lex by RubberStampMadness magazine in Issue 15.) Sometimes it's been for the fun of it, and sometimes to test just how far from a traditional "mailpiece" one can get and still have it delivered. A few years ago an example, probably of the first reason, was found in an old house in New Zealand.

1,442 and counting

February 4, 2024

During the beginning and height of the pandemic, articles about connecting through mail were quite common, many of them pretty much saying the same basic things. This one, however, which is much more recent, focuses more on the mail.

Speaking of stamp prices...

January 27, 2024

Here's one that goes way, way beyond all the recent increases in postal systems around the world. But it's not just for any stamp - it's for the one on the envelope (which is also part of the sale) that's the first known mail sent with a stamp. Maybe not the very first one sent, but apparently the oldest one yet found to have survived the years.

A surprising pen pal

January 20, 2024

Occasionally someone who writes to a famous person - most typically an actor or author, it seems - gets a personal response that turns into a continuing correspondence. In this case, however, the relationship began in person and continues mostly in writing, between a woman in Iowa and China's political leader.

Educational and personal at the same time

January 12, 2024

Here's an article about an anthropologist who created his own mail art postcards to tell his granddaughter what he was learning and doing on his research trips.

Better late than never?

January 5, 2024

Occasionally one comes across a report of a letter (more often a postcard) that was delivered late - sometimes by years, sometimes by decades. Here's a report about letters that were "delivered" a bit late, but not read for more than two centuries. And though the title calls them "love letters," they were mostly letters between family members.

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