Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Scanned

One day each week, I scan someone else's stuff. The process is slow and monotonous, but it gives me a chance to read the history of others and reflect on my own family tree.

This week, I scanned letters from a girl in college in the 1890's. She received letters at school from several girls. They mostly talked about boys. There was one girl in particular who had the attention of two boys. She was dating one, but did not love him. She had a crush on another.

The letters were amusing. Back in the 1890's girls wrote letters about boys. Now they text each other about boys. Some things never change.

The second group of letters were from the 1930's. The girl was now a woman and a widow to boot. Her youngest child was college age and wrote often from school. It is clear the boy loved his mother and felt compelled to look after her as the only man left in the family. The mother kept all of her son's letters.

The last batch of letters were from the late 1950's. Most are written by the boy who is now a man. The subject is his mother who is declining in health. He wrote to his siblings to discuss her living situation and related duties and costs. It's the same conversation many adult children have had about their parents.

Scanning these letters was an interesting experience. I read about this woman's life and experienced each stage until her death. In a period of a few hours I got to see how quickly life goes by...and moves on without us.

The silver lining in this Debbie Downer blog post is that these letters are now digitized. The written voice of the woman is preserved and will be documented and shared by her descendants.

We can't bring people back, but we can ensure they're not forgotten.


  1. I find stuff like that so interesting, and letters are such a great way to get to know someone. Its also funny how some things never change.

  2. "We can't bring people back, but we can ensure they're not forgotten." that.

  3. I don't think tweets through one's life will be quite the same as letters in terms of giving a flavour of one's full life. Wonderful that the letters have been kept! Thanks for posting.

  4. This is so interesting... just goes to show how some things never change no matter the century.