Saving World War Two Letters
Some Letters Were Handwritten and Some Typed
Soldier's Letters, Love Letters and Other Memorabilia from the Second World War
It horrifies me to think of someone tossing out their grandfather's World War II letters or burning an old diary. My family treasures letters, journals and other memorabilia from the generations that preceded us. Unfortunately not all families feel that these are worth saving. Who cares about that old stuff, some might say.
More and more, people realize these creased and yellowed letters from World War II really are a precious record of a very historic time. Each letter provides a piece of the jigsaw puzzle; a tiny glimpse into one person's experience. The pieces form a larger picture of what the war was like and how it affected people's lives. (photo from our family album of my Uncle Ralph Martin)
I've collected a wide variety of books made from World War Two letters. Some are letters the soldiers sent home, others are from the homefront and some are love letters. Do you want to know how to preserve letters that you have or how to turn them into a book? I've included that information too.
It Was an All Out Effort to Win the War
Store World War II Letters Safely
- WWII Memories: How To Preserve Letters
World War II era letters offer personal insights into the war from veterans and civilians alike. Unfortunately, old letters can easily be lost or destroyed, but History.com offers some tips for preserving historical letters for future generations:
Proper Storage to Save the Old Letters
Taking care of old paper means don't store it in hot or cold places (attics or garages) or where it is exposed to dampness (basements). Displaying it presents problems, as sunlight can fade the old ink and make the paper brittle. Check out the rest of the tips in the link here on WWII Memories: How to Preserve Letters. I also recommend a book called, An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs - Learn techniques to save old letters.
If it's a single letter, you can have it framed. Be sure to get the special glass that protects the letter from UV rays that cause fading. Multiple-page letters can be framed and hung in a row or placed in one long frame with a mat setting off the letters.
If you have many letters, get an archival quality box to keep them in. You can find these in the scrapbooking section of craft stores or order from Amazon.
Acid Free Storage Box for Old Letters - Keep the letters from deteriorating
A shoebox seems a convenient place to store old letters and photos. Unfortunately the fiber in the cardboard causes the vintage papers and photos to deteriorate.
Don't let this happen to your family heirlooms. Store them in archival quality containers.
Books of World War II Letters
Published Letters from World War II - Soldiers writing home
Take a look at these books available in public libraries or from Amazon.
- World War II Letters
- Seeds of Hope
- Taps for a Jim Crow Army (letters from black soldiers)
- Warhawk: Letters From Out of the Blue: A True Story of Love and War, Tragedy and Triumph
Advice for Someone with WWII Family Letters
Jackie Gear sent this query, "I have a huge shoe box of World War II letters from my father to his mother. He wrote one to her every day of the time he spent in Algeria and Italy.
He was a recipient of a Medal of Gallantry and mentioned in dispatches. The letters are really well written and go into great details little stories of his trips out in the desert and meeting local folk. They are worthy of a book and there are many photos that could go with them.
I need ideas of how I could start off. I would prefer to have them printed properly in a book in remembrance of him. He was a gentleman and loved his Mother and sisters very much as it is apparent in the letters. They are very readable. I also have numerous documents dating back to 1800's of his family who had a fine importing business and printing business in Nuremberg back in 1875 and later in the Barbican in London. His father was interned in the first World War as he was a German in the UK. He died while in the internment of pneumonia and my father then became the man of the family.
The documents are fascinating as they are copies of ownership of church pews, and crypts, house ownership and sales, and old maps of Furth where the very first steam train started from. Where can I get help to compile a historic social history of all the items I possess?
My Answer: Wow, Jackie, what wonderful family treasures you have. They are historically interesting it seems, as well. Take a look at blurb.com as a possible way to self-publish these. If you don't wish to do the work yourself, there are experienced book designers at the site who can be hired.
Published Letters from Women in World War II - From women in the military and on the homefront
Don't forget women's participation in the war years. These letters detail first-hand what it was like to be a WAC or in the Women's Land Army. You'll also see books of WWII letters from women on the homefront.
Women served in so many ways. They were nurses, office workers, factory workers and volunteers in selling war bonds, collecting scrap metal and contributed in many other ways.
Every Soldier Looked Forward to a Letter from His Girl
Examples of Women's WWII Letters That Are Saved in Books
Women's letters from WWII include titles like these. Ask at your public library or order them online.
- Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front
- Dear Boys: World War II Letters from a Woman Back Home
- Mollie's War: The Letters of a World War II WAC in Europe
- One Woman's War: Letters Home From The Women's Army Corp 1944-1946
More Sweethearts from the 1940s
Published Love Letters from World War II
Sometimes letters kept love alive despite the long separation caused by the war. Enjoy these books of WWII love letters. By saving your ancestors' love letters in a book, you preserve their memory for future generations. Sometimes, the letters show only one side of the correspondence. If you have both his and her letters, it's great to publish them together.
- Sending My Love (Love Letters from John Brugmann in WWII)
- Letters of Love and War: A World War II Correspondence - In this collection of letters, you see both the homefront (from Helen's letters) and the battle areas from her husband's letters. He's an army surgeon and his letters come from North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. A great glimpse into the war years.
- From Calcutta with Love: The World War II Letters of Richard and Reva Beard
- A Chance for Love: The World War II Letters of Marian Elizabeth Smith and Lt. Eugene T. Petersen, USMCR
- Dearest Ruthy
Mailing the Letter at the Local Post Office to a Loved One Overseas
Making the Letters Available to Family Members
Query from a visitor, "I want to copy about 200 letters written between husband in military command of POWs in the U.S. and his wife. How can I do this for other family members?
My Advice: I recommend scanning them into your computer. Use the digital copies to transcribe the letters. Put both the handwritten letter and the transcription into a self-published book using blurb.com. You can keep the book private, letting only family members order copies or you can make it available in Blurb's online bookstore for anyone to buy.
Another option is to use Shutterfly but for large numbers of letters, it would be easier to use Blurb.
A Jeep from World War II
Museums with Collections of World War II Letters
Where You Can Go to See Letters or to Donate Ones You Have
- Museum of World War II, Natick, Massachusetts
The Museum of World War II, Inc., with 10,000 square feet of display area, is described as "a...private collection containing the most comprehensive display of original World War II artifacts on exhibit anywhere in the world". The museum is located a
World War II Letters Online
- WW2 Letters - Mail & Post from soldiers of the Second World War
Primary source and first person accounts of world war two in the form of mailed document sent to and from WWII military servicemen.
- WWII Letters, WW2 Letters and Photos
See the actual letters online and read it (transcribed for easier reading).
Feature the Letters in a Blog
You can start a free blog using Wordpress or Blogger where you can feature the letters over a period of time. Pace it out to one letter a week, perhaps.
Here's an example where the daughter shares her father's WWII letters on a blog. She includes a photo of the actual letter, a transcription of the letter, and adds her on comments on the family background to go with the letter. NotSoFancyNancy: My Father's Letters.
After posting the letters to the blog over the weeks or even years, you can have the blog slurped into a book using a site called Blog2Book.
Turn Your Family's World War II Letters into a Book
I've Used Blurb for My Family History Books
- Self-Publish Family Memories
I've self-published two books of family stories and history using a print-on-demand publisher like Blurb.com. Maybe you've thought of putting your own life stories into a book or of publishing a family history book to honor your parents and...
- Saving Dad's Memories
Last year, I created a book about my father's life by collecting together essays written by my mom, my sister and myself. That sounds like a major project, but self-publishing a book is much easier these days. It also is much less expensive than it..
An Example of World War II Letters Published Using Blurb - Somewhere in France By Bernard P. Lyons/Mary Jo Meloy
This one teams up photos and letters from the second world war for a remarkable account. Don't miss it.
With Love, Jim - Letters from Jim Holzem during the War
More WWII Letters Published through Blurb - Letters Home 1940 to 1945 Written By Russell L. Eberlein
WWII Love Letters - The Chandler's WW2 Letters
More Letters Published with Blurb.com - All My Love, Bob
Navy Letters of World War Two - Volume 1 - Eugene Schmidt to Maxine O'Connell
Flynn's Letter (WWII letters published with Blurb) - by Joseph A. Burke (preview the book)
Dear Folks, by Paul Stoloff
The World War II Memoirs of 1st. Lt. Marvin Stoloff
This book shows the handwritten letter as the background design on the page. That is overlaid with the text of the letter in printed form for easier reading.
Dear Gramp by Joshua B. Bell, Editor - WWII letters
Dear Gramp by Joshua B. Bell, Editor | Make Your Own Book
This is a collection of letters written by the editor's Grandfather to his Grandfather during World War II. The book contains typed copies of the letters, the original letters and envelopes, as well as several pictures.
Letters From Artie by Terry Lyons | Make Your Own Book
YouTube - Another Way to Share Letters
Read your parents' or grandparents' letters from WWII for the camera and share on YouTube.
Save WWII Letters by Sharing Them on YouTube - A son reads his father's WWII Air Force letters
This is a great way to share the letters with family members and the whole world. I expect back in the 1940s when the family received the letters, they would sit around the living room or the kitchen table and read them aloud so everyone would get the news at once.
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