Genealogy Friday: Gems in Old Letters

posted in: Genealogy | 0

129321732457132405I often wish I could time travel and talk with my great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents and other ancestors.

The closest resource I have to know more about my ancestors are through old letters.  Unfortunately, I only have a few of these.

However, through reading their letters I can discover:


  • What mattered to them—letters from my gg-grandfather show that family were important to him.  That is both to whom he wrote and what he wrote about.
  • Their character—my great-grandfather strongly encouraged his son to be careful with his free spending and think about the future.  This showed me that he was responsible and cared about how others perceived you.
  • Their concerns—the same letter just mentioned showed his concern with money.              Letter from Lee Patton to son, James, abt debts owed (2)
  • Their interest—the above letters mentioned showed their interesting in family issues
  • Their neighbors and/or friends—my great-grandmother had letters from previous neighbors
  • Family connections—I didn’t understand why my gg-grandfather was telling his aunt about his brother-in-law.  Research proved that not only was this his brother-in-law, but also his first cousin.
  • What life was like—my great-grandmother had letters from old neighbors that told me more about their life during time they were neighbors and afterwards
  • Current events—I have letters and postcards from WWII that give me a snapshot into life at the time

What gems have you uncovered through old letters?



Gems found in old letters

Old letters tell a story

The value of old family letters in genealogical pursuits


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