The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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1890 letter from the Forbes House Museum collection

When was the last time you wrote a letter? Waited impatiently for a letter you hoped would come? Read a letter written in proper script?

Long before the advent of telephones – never mind iPhones – writing and responding to letters was part of one’s daily routine. Handwriting was an art form, learned early and practiced regularly. Ink was mixed by hand, and there were no erasers, backspace keys or delete buttons. No send buttons either! Letters could take days, weeks, or months to get to their destination.

Author Phyllis Forbes Kerr immersed herself in the letter-writing world of the 1800s for her book, “Letters From China: The Canton-Boston Correspondence of Robert Bennet Forbes, 1838-1840.” Meet Ms. Forbes Kerr and hear about the joys and challenges of working with her great-great-grandfather’s original letters. Ms. Forbes Kerr will read excerpts from her book and answer questions. Antique writing tools and other notable letters will be on display.

Have you saved handwritten letters from your ancestors? Bring a copy of one to add to a community display of letters. Photos to accompany the letters are welcome too. Help the Forbes House reclaim the Lost Art of Letter Writing!

This event is part of ArtWeek Milton, a coordinated local festival of interactive cultural events, which in turn is part of the statewide ArtWeek MA.