Valentines and Love Letters

14 02 2019

People have a tendency to save things that bring them joy and happiness.  As such, it should be no surprise that many Valentines and love letters have been donated to the University Archives over the years.  We recently installed a small exhibit in the Reading Room (101 Conrad Hall) featuring expressions of love from our collections.

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Below are images of a few Valentines in the exhibit.  Some are from students to their teacher and others from children to their parents.  One is from a young woman to her soon-to-be husband, and includes a sweet love note hidden within the folds of the Valentine.

 

 

The love letters featured in the exhibit are from two collections – the R. E. Olds papers and the Zee/Schober families’ papers.

Lansing automobile pioneer Ransom E. Olds wrote numerous letters to Metta Woodward, whom he married in 1899.  In his personal life, Olds was a devoted family man.  Even though his correspondence to Metta merely discusses day-to-day affairs, the letters show a sweet and affectionate side of Olds.  Valedictions such as “Ever your true and devoted Ransom” close the letters.

The great love they shared can be seen in photos taken after nearly six decades of marriage. They were parted when Ransom died August 26, 1950.  Metta died a week later, on September 2, 1950*.

Ransom and Metta

Metta and Ransom Olds

The second set of letters in the exhibit were written by Wilmer Zee to Elsie Schober.  The letters from early in 1928 are short and polite, but by the end of the year the content becomes personal, with the letters addressed “Dear sweetheart” [his emphasis] and signed “Your sweetheart love, Wilmer.”  He surrounds his signature with Xs to symbolize kisses.  In another letter, circa 1928, Wilmer writes “Sweet one it seems ages since I last saw those beautiful green eyes of yours and the last kiss from those only lips.”  Wilmer and Elsie courted for approximately three years, before marrying in July 1931.  They were together until Wilmer’s death in 1987.

 

For those of you in more of an Anti-Valentines Day mood, check out the Mark Flowers letters to Emma Miller on our Civil War history website (http://civilwar.archives.msu.edu/collection/7-1C-7/emma-miller/).  The relationship has a promising start but ends in heartbreak.

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Not a good sign when a letter starts “Dear Friend Emma,” instead of the usual “My own darling Emma.”

To learn more about these collections:

Ransom E. Olds papers: http://archives.msu.edu/findaid/027.html

Zee and Schober families papers: http://archives.msu.edu/findaid/215.html

Leo M. Christensen papers: http://archives.msu.edu/findaid/174.html

Emma Miller papers: http://civilwar.archives.msu.edu/collection/7-1C-7/emma-miller/

*Interesting side note: Metta and Ransom Olds were born three days apart (June 6, 1864 and June 3, 1864, respectively), and died a week apart.

Written by Megan Badgley Malone, collections & outreach archivist

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