Over-the-mail journal chain. Is that a thing? What's it called?
January 13, 2012 8:39 AM   Subscribe

An over-the-mail journal chain. I have been asking friends about this and they don't know what I'm talking about. Have I imagined it?

I seem to remember this as something school girls did, pen-pal style. Or maybe it was an internet thing. It works like this: you receive a journal in the mail, you write on it, or draw, stick a photo, whatever (alter it), then mail it to the next person in the chain.

I wanted to start one such chain with friends, but I can't google it to get more info and ideas because I don't know what it's called. My description attempts have proved unfruitful.
posted by Opal to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1000 Journals was the first well-known one, I *think*. They're usually called Collaborative Journal Projects and here's a list of links to some. Good luck with yours!
posted by iconomy at 8:44 AM on January 13, 2012

Best answer: Traveling moleskine is one such project. And traveling journal.
posted by moonmilk at 8:45 AM on January 13, 2012

Response by poster: Perfect! I think the one I saw was 1000 journals. These are great resources, thank you so much!
posted by Opal at 8:57 AM on January 13, 2012

Oh! Hi! I forgot all about these until this question!

We called them "Slam books" or "Friendship books" and boy did I go through a lot of stamps, address labels and Outline markers in the mid-to-late 80s!

Most of the times we'd make our own out of construction paper and pictures from teen magazines or those little album stamps from the Columbia House flyers. Each page would have a question and numbers 1 - 10 or so. We'd have questions on each page like "who do you wish you could kiss" and "what's your favorite color?" When you got one, you'd slap your address label in an numbered spot, answer the questions and mail it to one of your penpals. When it was finished, it'd go back to the girl who created the book. Each person who passed it on got to see everyone's answer and get some penpal leads, and the one who created it would get the thrill of seeing where that book got to.

I made a lot of great penpal friends that way until we all grew out of it.

(and if you smeared a thin layer of Elmer's glue on top of the stamp, the next girl could wash off the post office ink and reuse the stamp!)
posted by ladygypsy at 9:26 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

My grandmother participated in a much earlier version of this. She and about a dozen sorority sisters kept up a round-robin letter for 60+ years (with dwindling membership). My understanding is that they simply had a prescribed order in which they sent it on, and each added news of their own life to share with the group.
posted by juliapangolin at 9:30 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have done slam books when I was a kid in the 80's too boy where they fun, I did a lot of international ones and had a great time doing it.

My favourite ones where back when Scrapbooking was just taking off and stores where few and far between I was involved in a few Where the first person would send out a small home made album and we'd all get a page to decorate usually with a theme involved and then you'd send it on to the next person on the list. It was a great way to see other peoples techniques as I lived in the back of beyond and there were no crops to go to it was like a crop by mail. If you knew everyone involved it would be a fun way to get photos of everyone. There are also Artist Trady card swaps which seem to be the modern version of that.
posted by wwax at 9:42 AM on January 13, 2012

Response by poster: Awesome, that's exactly what I remembered. I knew I wasn't crazy.

Now that I know what it's called and how it works... Any suggestions of journals to use? Moleskine seems a logical choice, but I'm afraid the pages are too flimsy.
posted by Opal at 11:03 AM on January 13, 2012

I've also heard of these types of projects referred to as a "circle journal." Hope this helps.
posted by not.so.hip at 2:07 PM on January 13, 2012

There was also this one - Can Any Mother Help Me?. Journal entries / articles / letters between a group of women, starting in 1935. This review may explain it better.
posted by paduasoy at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2012

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