Social Correspondence @Twitter

Can 140 character messages be a real form of correspondence? Does Twitter have personal communications value beyond news and marketing? Curious as to what role it can play in social correspondence, I recently became a registered subscriber, ready to explore this social networking and microblogging site. Twitter is one of my workplace neighbors. In what is known as the mid-Market area of San Francisco, near the Civic Center, significant change has taken place in recent years, change that continues to transform a neighborhood. This once blighted area, victim of a now defunct freeway constructed over six…

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Indiscreet Letters

This has not been a good week for the legacy of Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the U.S., 1921 –1923. Harding’s failures as President have been extensively documented. His short-lived administration was rocked by corruption and scandal overshadowed his accomplishments, resulting in his rankings being consistently the lowest of all of the U.S. Presidents. And now his indiscreet letters have been revealed. The Library of Congress has unsealed his previously unpublished letters to his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of one of his close friends. The letters, mostly written prior to his Presidency, are…

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The Telegram

, More than thirty years before Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone, Samuel Morse found a way to transit messages through electrical pulses across a series of wires. It was 1841, and communication by Morse code became the foundation for the telegram system, and later was adapted for radio communications. Throughout history, telegrams have played an important role. President Abraham Lincoln used telegrams to communicate with his Generals during the Civil War. According to George Mason University’s History News Network, “When Lincoln arrived for his inauguration in 1861 there was not even a telegraph line to…

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Gratitude: The Art of the Thank You Note

Despite the accelerating demise of the personal, handwritten letter, the art of bread and butter letters and thank you notes appears to have continuing life. Expressing gratitude sometimes can be difficult, but even a brief note of thanks is always welcome, and one of the most meaningful and important communications we undertake. While social usage evolves over time, good manners are timeless. In Your Best Foot Forward: Social Usage for Young Moderns (McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc., c. 1940) by Dorothy Stratton and Helen B. Schleman, the authors advise that “You are expected to write a…

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Early Letters of Harvey Milk

San Francisco celebrated Pride in big style this past weekend, a fitting time to pay tribute to the late gay activist and internationally famous icon, Harvey Milk, with a look at letters from his early, pre-political life. Harvey Milk was born in New York in 1930, nearly 40 years before Stonewall and 42 years before his move to San Francisco that changed the course of history. Through his letters, written 1956–1962 to his good friend, Susan Davis Alch, a picture emerges of a young man preoccupied with universal concerns: love, work, money (mostly, lack of), where…

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Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing

Books to Read Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Nina Sankovitch When Nina Sankovitch and her husband went house hunting “years ago,” they find a run-down house on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, built in 1888, but unoccupied for the past15 years. The house includes some old, dusty furniture, rotting floors and obsolete plumbing and electrical systems, but somehow, it is just right for them. Despite escalating real estate values, their offer is accepted, despite better offers that come in after their bid. Thus begins the saga of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing (not…

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Letters We Love to Receive

In the words of the great P.D. James, 93-year old doyenne of English crime fiction, “No literary form is more revealing, more spontaneous or more individual than a letter.” But what distinguishes some letters from others, those letters that are pure pleasure to read, opened with eager anticipation? The letters that are read many times over, and then saved, in a drawer or file, box or basket? To some extent, the answer lies with the recipient’s relationship with the sender. Letters from a spouse, child, beloved aunt, cousin, grandmother, lover, close friend, are surely the ones…

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The Overdue Letter

A letter, especially one that is meaningful to both the sender and the receiver, may be fraught with emotion. Letters can convey multiple emotions, including love, regret, despair, joy and anger. Many of us have experienced the satisfaction of putting our angry feelings into writing. This can be a good device for cooling off and collecting oneself, whether the letter is actually sent or not. A recent opinion piece in The New York Times, penned by Maria Konnikova, The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter, received a strong response from readers, with many sharing their own…

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Old Post Office Tower and Complex

Along Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from the White House, there is a landmark, a federally protected building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Post Office Tower and complex, constructed between 1892 and 1899, boasts unparalleled, panoramic views of the nation’s capital. According to the National Park Service (NPS) on a clear day, visibility may exceed 12 miles. This magnificent structure, owned and managed by the General Services Administration (GSA) in cooperation with the National Park Service, most recently was home to an eclectic assortment of government offices, including the National Endowment for…

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How the MTST Changed My Life

Before computers, there were word processors, and before that, electric typewriters. These machines did not come with apps or software, and the functionality was limited, but they opened up whole new worlds of efficiency beyond handwriting or typing on a manual typewriter. In the late 60s, early 70s, I worked as a secretary, which required typing, filing, and simple accounting skills. While typing for a living was not a glamorous career, the ability to type provided jobs for many women, both young and old, at a time when women’s career options were limited. The company I…

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