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handwritten letters

  • Right Time For A Handwriting Service?

    Here's a little irony: At a time when handwriting is being supplanted by technology, a growing little niche market has emerged for handwriting services.

    (And that's not just the plot of Her.)

    It makes sense. The supply of the handwriting-capable is dwindling, so the demand for those who can still make neat cursive words is increasing.

    The Chicago Tribune recently ran a piece about a new start-up called Handiemail that uses the digital marketplace to sell analog handwriting services.

    Continue reading

  • 36 Years Of Friendship For Pen Pals

    This is an awesome story: In 1976, two 12-year-old girls were connected by a pen pal organization and started writing letters to each other. They grew up, got jobs, became mothers – but never stopped exchanging handwritten letters.

    Now, the two women, one from Sweden and the other from the US, are preparing to meet for the first time. And, with funding from a Kickstarter project, one of the women and her son are making a documentary about the lifelong literary friendship.

    Why are we making this film? Because no one writes real letters anymore. Because Lena and Melissa never stopped writing and 36 years is a really long time to keep a letter-writing friendship alive. Because it's an incredible thing to imagine these two women meeting, finally...Because, at the end of the day, this is why we are here: to connect with one another, to be human and to build lasting relationships.

    Melissa and her son Sam have reached their funding goal and, so far, it looks like they'll be heading to Stockholm this summer to meet Lena and begin filming.

    Melissa explains what this long relationship has meant to her in a personal essay on her website. The whole thing is very much worth reading.

    Thirty-six years of letters from a girl living in a very different land gave me a worldview lens I otherwise never would have had, through which I saw a wholly divergent way of life. While my world was mostly limited to upstate New York, Lena was out seeing London and Rome and Moscow, and always sharing her visions and insights with me, and I am absolutely certain that it shaped the contents of my character and fueled the flame that would later send me out onto many a journey to see for myself other ways of living and being.

    TheLocal.se also did a lengthy article on the pen pals and their upcoming meeting. According to the article, they've tried other means of communication, like email, but just didn't find it as satisfying.

    It's always great to see these childhood pen pal relationships that survive into adulthood and continue to thrive, despite the existence of Facebook and Twitter and Skype. I wonder if there are any flourishing pen pal friendships now that will last into the decades ahead.

    Perhaps surprisingly, there are still several organizations that exist to help connect pen pals from around the world. If you're interested, or have a child who is, we suggest you might check them out. (Of course, the world being what it is, you'll need to follow the usual precautions when meeting new people online.)

    Pen pal services

    InterPals (free service)

    Students of the World (free service for students and teachers)

    International Pen Friends (paid service)

  • 'Snail Mail My Email' Returns!

    Do you remember the project last year in which an army of volunteers wrote letters on behalf of strangers and mailed them around the world?

    It went so well, the organizers are doing it again...this week only.

    The way Snail Mail My Email works is this: You email the group with the name, address and message you want sent to a certain somebody. They will hand-write the letter, add little artistic flourishes such as doodles or flowers (if you'd like) and even pay the postage to send the letter wherever you want.

    According to the group's website, you can send a message to anyone: friends, family, secret crushes or elected representatives.

    Last year, the volunteers sent more than 10,400 letters to at least 70 different countries over the course of a month. Some of the best letters were collected into a book called 'Snail Mail My Email: Handwritten Letters in a Digital World.' (You can buy the book at Amazon.com.)

    The campaign is the creation of Ivan Cash, a San Francisco-based artist and designer.

    "The project's underlying goal has always been to reignite the lost art of letter writing," he said in a news release. "I hope that between the book, the project's return, and any other exposure, people feel inspired to write and send a letter of their own!"

    This year, the project is only open THIS WEEK, so if you want to send a message through the group, you have until Nov. 18.

    A couple of things to keep in mind: The messages can be only 100 words maximum, and you can only send one. The email address for submitting your snail-mail-to-be is [email protected]

    (Don't know if they still need volunteers, but it wouldn't hurt to ask if you are interested.)

    Of course, we're hoping at least one of you will send us an adoring letter. :)

  • Recommended Reading: Letterstowhatever.com

    Supposedly the Internet was created so scientists could communicate with each other.

    But we all know the truth: The interwebz exists so we can look at pictures of cats and videos of guys getting hit in the privates and otherwise waste time that we normally would have spent doing boring real-life stuff.

    With that in mind, we heartily recommend a site for all of our penthusiasts and letter-writers to enjoy. Letterstowhatever.com is a collection of user-submitted letters, both handwritten and keyboarded, written to any number of people on any number of usually hilarious topics.

    There is the guy who is 'glad my girlfriend isn't sappy' writing to people who engage in too much PDA, a little boy at summer camp named Josh who wants his mom to know the rash has cleared up, the sandwich lover offering advice on cheese distribution to Subway, and a few dozen other must-read gems.

    According to the site, it started as a class project for an Indiana college student and exists to'rekindle the art of letter writing by encouraging website visitors to share their writing online. The letter sharing blog features personal letters, love letters, funny letters, handwritten letters, and letters addressing all topics; written and submitted by website visitors from around the world.'

    The site is still somewhat new, so there aren't tons of letters yet, but you'll find enough to keep you from getting any work done for a while.

    The letters are sorted by category, so just look in the right rail for the ones you want. We recommend 'handwritten' and 'funny.'

    And, after perusing the site, if you still feel like procrastinating, check out a couple of other favorite sites:

    Letters of Note

    FOUND Magazine

  • Handwritten Thank-You Notes From the Boss

    Years ago, when I was just starting out as a newspaper reporter, I worked at a paper run by publisher Dave Lawrence. Although he was in charge of a large, busy daily metro newspaper, he often took to the time to send out handwritten notes when someone's work particularly pleased him.

    They arrived in stiff, yellow inter-office memo envelopes, closed by a string, and were known around the newsroom as 'Dave Raves.'

    I'd been at the paper for a few months, working the night desk, and was pretty sure he had no idea who I was. A couple of my stories had made the front page, but mostly I wrote minor briefs and obituaries that got tucked away in the back sections.

    And then one day, I came in to work and found, in my mailbox, one of those little envelopes from the publisher's office. It was a handwritten 'Dave Rave' praising an obit I'd recently written about a local cartoonist. Continue reading

  • Conversations About Handwriting

    • Researchers at a U.S. university are working with the FBI to compile a database of donated handwriting samples to use in handwriting analysis programs.

    It's being run through the English Department of West Virginia University, which is conducting two-hour "collection sessions" with volunteers.

    From the university's website:

    The goal is to compile an anonymous data set to be used by WVU and the FBI to study handwriting and the unique characteristics of writing styles. Handwriting can profile human behavior in the areas of social skills, thinking styles, work habits and the way persons deal with stress. Handwriting is a unique snapshot of an individual’s current state of mind, body and feelings. Continue reading

  • Conversations about Handwriting

    • Apparently, the chief regulator of school exams in England has declared that tests should be conducted on computers, rather than with pen and paper. As Ofqual head Isabel Nisbet sees it, handwritten tests are “invalid” means of measuring the progress of children raised on technology.

    So, James Preston has published a succinct rebuttal against the obsolescence of handwriting in the New Statesman, arguing that the simple task of putting thoughts on paper encourages learning in a way that computers can’t. Continue reading

  • Conversations about Handwriting

    • St. Louis Today took time recently to highlight a woman who still manages to make a living with her handwriting. Barbara Winnerman has been a professional calligrapher for 35 years, and still gets enough work to stay employed full-time, she told the paper.

    I stay busy designing wedding invitations and addressing envelopes throughout the year. I also do commission work such as poems, quotations and awards. Thirty years ago, there was a lot of work filling in names on certificates and diplomas. All that work went away with the advent of computer printing. Continue reading

  • Conversations About Handwriting

    • Parents in New York are so obsessed with getting their kids into the right schools that they are hiring occupational therapists to teach their pre-schoolers how to write, according to the New York Times. Continue reading

  • Conversations About Handwriting

    Lots of good stuff for you this week:

    No wonder people in the Victorian era seemed to write so many letters. The New York Times has a very interesting article about how mail was delivered 12 times a day in London back then. You could receive a letter and respond to it the same day. Continue reading

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