Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Correspondence Monthly, Febraury 1921
Its hard to imagine, but once upon a time, letters to loved ones were amongst the most intimate and prized possessions. Now we throw our email in the trash bin before we even open it.
Correspondence Monthly, "The Journal of Informal Letters & Postcards" was once as common place as the Saturday Evening Post in American households, and just as highly regarded as that august publication. With its finger on the pulse of letter writing propriety, Correspondence Monthly set the pace for all that was fit to write between people.
The magazine was the first to suggest in 1850 that penpal relationships require registration "as to prevent the innappropriate communication betwixt unmarried people."
"We find that there is considerable evidence to worry about the outcome of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman communicating to one and other, blindly and without proper supervision. Suggestiveness and base familiarities, most certainly, could enter the communication leading to inappropriate actions, ultimately leading to an undesirable marriage, built upon a foundation of salacious yearnings and unmoderated lust...A national registry of these so called Pen Pals is suggested, however the chaperoning and censor of "Pen Pal" letters must be enacted immediately to save the moral fiber of the nation's young and innocents."
Well, there you have it.
Correspondence Monthly enjoyed great success until the forerunner of email - V-mail, during WWII - broke down all of the carefully crafted rules of writing ettiquette. Like the Axis powers were crused by the Allied Forces, the tissue thin nature of V-Mail, along with the encrochment of abbreviations doomed Correspondence Monthly to ultimate defeat and failure. It, along with other it's offspring (Love Letters Monthly, Penny Postcard Digest and the Journal of Greeting Cards) to moldering in the dank basements of second hand book stores and the trash heaps of history.