Letters can be a great way to explore someone’s journey. Often pioneers would write letters home describing their trips west, as is the case with the letters in the activity below. Letters can also capture differing perspectives on events. While it is rare to find both sides of a correspondence in a historical society, one could choose a group of letters written from one perspective and then search online for letters from a second perspective.

Sometimes you can find letters that were written to the local newspaper from exotic places, the west, or the war front. These often give detailed descriptions of locations and events that were of national interest.

Gaining a sense of when the letters were written, the relationship between the writer and the receiver, as well as the location of the correspondents is an important first step in reading a letter for historical information.

View a larger image of this letter