Letters, we get letters
May 9, 2005 8:46 AM   Subscribe

This may seem like an odd question, but - I like to keep all of my old letters from various friends and acquaintances, but now I find myself with stacks of them. Can someone suggest a better way to keep them than putting them in shoeboxes? I can't seem to part with them, but they're just sitting there collecting dust.
posted by ORthey to Grab Bag (16 answers total)
Scan 'em and save it on a CD or a DVD.
posted by riffola at 8:48 AM on May 9, 2005

What's your goal? Preservation? Organization? Collage? If it's the dust that bothers you, clap a lid on that shoebox.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:50 AM on May 9, 2005

Response by poster: stupidsexyflanders - I guess that's basically problem; I don't really know. The dust doesn't really bother me, it was more of a figure of speech.

I'm basically hoping I'll get a few suggestions and/or recommendations about what others have done with their old correspondance.
posted by ORthey at 8:54 AM on May 9, 2005

Any paper store will have nice acid-free paper archive boxes. Buy a bunch, sort your letters chronologically, and store them in a prominent place, like on a bookshelf.
posted by josh at 8:55 AM on May 9, 2005

3-ring binders and clear sheet protectors are an option. I don't personally do that, but I have a friend who does. She keeps the binders organized by date, but there's no reason why you couldn't do it by, say, correspondent, as well.
posted by dersins at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2005

You can get a leather photo box to place them in. The boxes come in a variety of sizes and you can select leather of different shades to match your decor. This means you can not only keep the box in view, it would also make a nice accent piece in whatever room you decide to keep it in.
posted by Blue Buddha at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2005

I keep all my letters too, including from a 20 yr. correspondence with a friend from high school and she has also kept mine. I now keep them in plastic bins with latching lids. Protects them from moisture, dust, etc. and I can cram more in there because the lids latch. The also stack more easily. I do plan to scan them eventually.
posted by lobakgo at 9:24 AM on May 9, 2005

Yeah I keep all that; it'll be useful for my biographer. heh. Store it tidily. If there's anything incriminating, burn it in a private ceremony. There's probably lots of good stuff you could use for scrapbooking, if you're not as lazy as I am.
posted by theora55 at 9:24 AM on May 9, 2005

I keep mine in a filing cabinet. Now no one writes to me (on paper) anymore, so I have a kind of finite collection, and it only takes about half a drawer in my cabinets (I have four drawers altogether). I look at them every now and then, so I'm glad I haven't thrown them out. On the other hand, I also keep about 10 volumes of old diary / journals on my bottom bookshelf, and that's only about 12 years worth (I lost my teenage diaries when I left them at my stepmother's house - "garage flooded", apparently. actually it's probably just as well...) so I dunno if I'm a good example, considering that by the time I'm a senior citizen I'm likely to be quite surrounded by dust-collecting items of this sort...
posted by mdn at 10:09 AM on May 9, 2005

Similar to dersins' idea: get a scrapbook with acid-free pages and paste them into it. That's what I'm doing with all the cards I get from my hsuband.
posted by deborah at 11:47 AM on May 9, 2005

Mine (dating back to grade school) are in a couple of manila envelopes in my parents' attic. Not very glamorous or permanent; but then, neither were the original notes. In a way, spending time, effort and money on them would almost be silly. I am glad that I kept them, though, and that is enough for me.
posted by werty at 12:49 PM on May 9, 2005

As an archivist, if I were to receive a collection of letters that were to be permanently preserved, I would take them out of the envelopes, unfold them, put them into acid free folders and store them in an archival document box. I would then put the box in a cool, dry place. Depending on the paper, the letters would still be around for several hundred years. If you wanted a method that would facilitate display or frequent viewing I suggest a binder with Mylar or Melinex plastic sleeves (other plastics are unstable and actually start to melt into a sticky mess after a while). Please, no pasting. All types of glue and paste are harmful to the longevity of paper.
posted by modavis at 1:40 PM on May 9, 2005

Like mdn I get almost no physical letters anymore. Whenever I've run into one, I'd stick it inside a random book on my bookshelves for re-discovery and re-hiding in the future.

Emails, now, I'm going to have to figure out what to do with them...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:29 PM on May 9, 2005

I keep mine with the rest of my files, creating folders for new chronological periods when the old ones get too overstuffed. Not very sentimental, but it works. (And I think I'm being sentimental enough just by saving them all.)
posted by grouse at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2005

If you unfold and put each letter in it's own clear plastic pocket in a binder, you've just created a book of your letters. I find that in this kind of format, the vastly improved ease of flipping through and reading means you end up getting more use out of them, wheras when they're stored in boxes, you usually never see them. If you like to keep the envelopes as well, they can go in the same pocket behind the letter.

The plastic pockets aren't particularly nice from a tactile point of view, but from a practical one, make a significant improvement.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:37 PM on May 9, 2005

A friend of mine has had a long epistolary relationship with his girlfriend - there was a point where they were writing each other multiple times per day. Unsurprisingly, my friend now has a rather large collection of letters that he is reluctant to part with. His solution was to get a bunch of these filing boxes and file them all away in chronological order. It took him a while, but he said he really enjoyed being able to sit down and reread all of her letters from the beginning.
posted by Aster at 9:09 PM on May 9, 2005

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