The first-person letter exchange is a chance to put our research into the context of daily lives. Letter exchange dates will be announced in advance; on letter day, post your topical letter as a response in the thread for all to enjoy. Your letter may be from your usual “persona”, or from a temporary person designed for the purposes of the exchange. After letter day, we’ll take up discussion of any interesting topics raised in the 19th Century Life general discussion area (not in the letter thread!).
For instance, the topic might be announced: A Letter Home, August 20th. Use whichever year you’re most comfortable in, from 1840-1865, and setting yourself on August 20th of that year, write a letter to someone “at home” to tell about your current life and adventures. Be sure to date yourself (mentioning your target year at the top of the post), and give regional details where possible.
Aim for a natural writing style—these should not be history lectures or essays! Where research is incorporated, it should enter as seamlessly as possible. If you wish, you may address your letter to another member of the forum’s previous Letter Day contribution, allowing for an appropriate mailing delay (for instance, writing an October response to a September Letter Day missive. So far, we've all managed to avoid feeling like we have split personalities, writing to and from ourselves.)
Letters may be from any educational background, and need not be punctuationally perfect. (I'll sit on my editing fingers, I promise.) Please use great consideration when including ideas and words that may be offensive to modern sensibilities, and avoid profanities and vulgarities (if I judge something to be a shock-bomb, it will be removed.) Readers, keep in mind the letters are an excercise in understanding period mind-sets, and Do Not Necessarily Reflect The Real Life Attitudes Of The Writer. It's okay to include ideas and concepts that may be challenging to a modern mind-set.
If this seems like an easy task, don’t underestimate it! You’ll want to prepare for your letter by researching almanacs, regional history events, other diaries and letters from your area or the “back home” area to properly reference “current” events… this is a wonderful way to expand our context for the 19th century. The more wide-ranging and deep our understanding is, the easier it will be to adapt those details to future personas and impressions.
Have fun with your letters! No one will be critiquing them for style, though polite discussions of content may arise post-Letter Day.