Unveiling My Family History One Letter at a Time #writerslife #research #family #history

 

rms-letters-2016
Letters to/from my father spanning 1940-1950

How well do you know your parents’ family history? My father lived with me and my hubby and children for 17 years before he moved into assisted living. That gave me plenty of time to hear his tales of growing up, of surviving bombings during World War II, and more. I’m fortunate to have inherited my father’s correspondence after he died in 2011. This year I’ve decided to transcribe all of his letters for posterity, which means reading each and every letter and typing what they say, along with the notations on the envelopes and postmark information. As I’ve started perusing a few of them, I’m amazed at how much is written on the exterior of what I’ve read to date. I’m also anxious to get to the letters to and from my parents during their courtship. What new insights will I gain from those love letters?

 

First, there are other aspects of the correspondence to ponder. Consider the postmarks for example. They vary somewhat by city and state as to what they contain. Some have the day of the week including the date. Others do not. The earliest letters start in 1940 and the postmark doesn’t include a zip code. Curious, I had to find out when the U.S. postal service began using them. Turns out it wasn’t until after I was born! Not until 1963 did they begin to appear and even then not uniformly. Click here for more information if you’re curious like I was.

Another curiosity regarding the envelopes was the stamps. Or more specifically the missing stamps on many of the letters, though not all. I figured my dad must have cut them out, but why? I didn’t recall him collecting stamps. Maybe he tried to reuse them? Or gave them to someone else? While I was pondering this mystery, I happened to have a phone conversation with my oldest sister. I mentioned the missing stamps and she fessed up. Apparently Dad had given her permission to cut out the stamps she wanted for her collection! So that little mystery was solved quickly. The stamps themselves are also interesting, especially the price. It cost 1 cent to mail a “postal” or small postcard (left), and only 3 cents to mail a letter (right) in 1940 and 1941. And yet, the lady writing to my dad had to borrow a stamp from a friend in order to mail her letters because she didn’t have the money to buy one herself.

The stationary used is also varied and revealing at the same time. Lined note paper, folded pages written on like a booklet, letterhead from the nursing school where one of my dad’s girlfriends, or rather fiancée, attended (before he met my mother). Often the pages are numbered which was a necessity since the contents didn’t necessarily flow left to right as we’re accustomed today. The first letters are all handwritten, but some of the letters from my dad to his mother are typed on a typewriter while he was in the U.S. Army during World War II.

rms-letters-sorted-nov-2016

I’ve sorted the letters by year, except for the biggest collection which all were written the year my parents married in 1948, the two tall stacks in the back center of the above picture. Sometimes two letters a day from/to each of them! Those are sorted by month since my rubber bands had limits as to how far they’d stretch.

I wonder what I’ll learn about their courtship, about my family history, and about their plans and hopes for the future after their marriage. Obviously, this is a long-term project which will keep me occupied for months to come as I won’t be able to work on it every day. After all, I have books to write and research to do, trips to take and other family obligations. But my curiosity is truly piqued!

I may share some of my dad’s letters written during the war if they appear interesting. I imagine family doings would not be of interest, but his descriptions of where he was stationed and what happened on Guadalcanal would have more potential I think. We shall see as I go through them over the upcoming year.

Wish me luck! Tell me if you ever wonder about your parents’ courtship and how they met, etc. How much do you know about them?

I’m off to start typing!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

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Tomorrow is the official release of Undying Love! I am happy to share Meredith and Max’s story with you. Happy reading!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

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