Do you have family memorabilia like collections of letters you’re not sure how to preserve or share with others? They would make a wonderful book.
We’ve worked with clients who have created books from collections of love letters between grandparents, correspondence sent home by relatives serving in the military or by a loved one traveling abroad. No matter the nature of your letters, a few simple ideas will help transform them into a book you will be proud of.
Write a brief an introduction of the author(s) and the circumstances in which the letters were written. (Think the 5Ws – who, what, when, where, why, and how.)
Use occasional descriptions of the context in which particular letters were written to help readers better understand the content of the letters. For example, if you are working with the letters of a World War II vet a brief description of the theater of the war in which the person was serving and an occasional note on the progress of the campaign will supply context for the things censorship during the war would have kept out of the letters. This is especially important when you are writing for a younger audience which may have very limited knowledge of the war.
Make it an illustrated book by scanning photos, documents, maps, or other memorabilia the letter writer(s) may have sent home along with the letters.
Include a scanned letter or two so the reader can get a sense of what the originals looked like. We have worked with clients who have placed scans of the original letters on one page and a transcribed version on the facing page.
If you don’t have materials to use for illustrations, look for historical photographs which will fit the time and place in which the letters were written.
Write a brief conclusion which might summarize what happened to the author(s) after the letters were written, your own memories of the writer(s), or the themes and lessons that emerge from the letters.
A published book of collected letters is a singular tribute to their author(s) that helps to assure the preservation of their legacy within the family’s history.