About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Praest Hus at Gammelgarden near Scandia, Minnesota

Last year this blog posed a question on Collecting Christmas Letters, for which there was a solid response. To expand on this question, are there any historical organizations offering training on how to write good annual summary letters?

One reason that a historical organization might offer such classes is that such an activity might be seen as relevant and useful to the public. How often have historical organizations been accused of not being relevant or even an “optional extra”? By offering something that people can immediately use, historical organizations can further dispel doubts about relevancy.

There are other far more practical reasons, perhaps, than just plain relevancy.

Since everything should start with mission, and missions of local historical organizations are usually to collect, interpret and preserve, training the public to write solid letters would go a long way towards that mission.

Articulate and insightful letters that evaluate a person or family’s experience in the past twelve months are better additions to a research library than letters that lack such clarity.

By providing such classes a historical organization may attract a new audience that it has not previously served. Those people for whom the organization is new may never have thought much about history, their own legacy, or the good work being done by the organization.

By attracting new people, the organization may find new friends willing not only to donate a copy of their annual holiday summary, but also willing to contribute money and time.

Here are a few useful sites for learning how to write solid holiday letters:
How to Write Family Christmas Letters
Seven Tips for Sparkling Christmas Letters
Christmas News Letters – Suggestions and Examples
Christmas Letter Tips.com

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4 Responses to Encouraging Good Holiday Letters

  1. I couldn’t agree more about such things have a lot of potential for great information of many sorts…Good post!


  2. A. E. N. says:

    An interesting idea–I never would have thought of taking lessons on writing Christmas letters, but it might prove fascinating.

    I might not have realized how important good Christmas letters could be if not for my grandmother, who in her later years began locating her family’s previous Christmas letters and keeping them organized chronologically in a photo album that she’d had sitting around. No, it wasn’t a prettily decorated scrapbook presentation of the letters, but it kept them safe, together, and accessible for anyone who was interested in the family history. Taking her example, I’ve begun keeping track of my family’s annual holiday cards and hope one day to have a complete collection.


  3. The Isanti County Historical Society in Cambridge, MN used to offer Journaling and Juggling workshops with the specific idea of writing personal narratives that would be worthy of the archives, and provide information useful to researchers 50 years in the future. This was not holiday letter writing, but in the same vein.

    The organization also spent two weeks doing a potato creative writing workshop, and then another two weeks doing a pie creative writing workshop. The focus was to bring in the history of both pie and potatoes into creative non-fiction and poetry, which could then be used for promotional and marketing purposes for Braham Pie Day and the Isanti County Potato Festival. Teachers/authors/poets for these efforts were: Richard Solly and Katy Kysar, both of the Twin Cities.


  4. Here’s a sample press release for a historical organization seeking to receive holiday letters to augment its research collections.

    CONTACT: Kathleen Klehr, Executive Director
    (952-445-0378 or kkl...@scottcountyhistory.org
    Scott County Historical Society
    235 South Fuller St.
    Shakopee, MN 55379

    Share Your Holiday Letter
    with the Scott County Historical Society

    (Shakopee, 12/16/2010) The Scott County Historical Society would love to receive your holiday letter this year. Unlike your relatives, we won’t pitch the letter in the recycling after the holidays. We are interested in collecting these letters as little snapshots of history. Holiday letters are filled with great information about your family history – exactly what we work to preserve. The letters will be added to our research library and available to future generations of your family and researchers. So please, add us to your holiday list.

    Send your letters to the Scott County Historical Society, 235 Fuller Street South, Shakopee, MN 55379. Call for details at 952-445-0378 or email at i...@scottcountyhistory.org



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