Few historical texts seem as familiar – or as compelling to read – as personal letters and manuscripts. They are plain-spoken, lively, and full of details. Both letters and diaries seem to emerge directly from the writer, fresh and intimate, bringing us close to who that person was. Both satisfy us by showing how people in the past shared many of our faith, traditions, ideals, hopes, worries, and common sense. They make us curious to explore differences in culture and expressive styles, in what people felt needed saying and what did not. These differences in turn point to historical changes and continuities in beliefs, theology, traditions, self, work, and values, which personal letters and diaries capture with special sharpness.
Special Collections is honored to have many collections containing personal letters and manuscripts in our care. Here are just a few of our holdings.