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March 16, 2018


Terri Beth

I hope your dream of having the letters cataloged by a library comes true, DB.

I use kraft paper bags (which I store in a large basket) to hold my letters. I used to have one bag per penpal, but then I somehow ended up corresponding with eleventy billion people, so some of them share a bag (bags are tagged). ;)

I don't keep copies of my letters.


Thank you for the response! I’m a member... my name is Karen... I ask this question of all my pen pals.... I wonder if it was me who asked you??? I don’t remember... oh dear, grad school brain

Alan B

My methods are almost the complete opposite, particularly regarding opening mail immediately, recording sent mail and filing, but I've still finished up with the 'many boxes' ;-)
But now I am slightly worried by the thought that your archive goes to a library and some academic of the 22nd century will be reading my inconsequential witterings and writing a sociological thesis.

Dario C

I personally prefer quality over quantity. I have a handful of correspondents only, and I would honestly feel bad if I knew that any of them would trash the mail in which I put time and consideration to specifically craft for them.

For me one of the goals of letter writing nowadays is to savor a slower pace of life, to stop, think, and ponder what I put out there and to counterbalance our useful but disposable e-mail world. Of course there's no single way of/reason for doing things, they way I see it, though, is that if you want to throw away communication, you might as well just use e-mails; why spend more time and resources and have others spend more time and resources to craft a piece of snail mail, if it will ultimately end up in the trash?

At the other end of the spectrum, I share Alan B's concerns about what I meant to be personal communication ending up at a library for anyone to peruse, be it 10 or 50 years from now. I really wouldn't want that.


I joined LWA last July and have only 6 pen pals. I purposely didn't tell them everything about myself to start off with. I figured I would gradually tell them things about myself over time (not do a giant data dump all at once.) So I do keep copies of my replies to make sure that I don't repeat myself. Otherwise it would be, "Did I tell Robin about my cats yet, or did I write that to Gloria?" I haven't had the chance yet to really get to know my pen pals, so it's hard for me to remember what I told whom. So far I keep my incoming letters in a small basket, sorted by sender. But I will have to come up with at least a larger container, as I've almost filled my little basket, or I need a completely new system.

Donovan, you have so many pen pals, I don't know how you remember what you have previously written to them. I suppose you limit your responses to commenting on the incoming mail content and current events?

Donovan Beeson

I mostly just wing it. I dont stress over the possibility of repetition because, hey, my mom tells me the same story in the space of one phone call. Its a normal thing. I think reasonable people understand and if you arent a reasonable person, then we arent pen pals.


So true, Donovan!


I keep a ledger - at the very least, it is a record of names and addresses, and the order in which letters have come in to assure I respond to letters in the proper order, and a record of correspondence that has gone out. When I’ve a mind to do so, it’s also notes on contents of letters that I don’t want to forget and/or don’t want to have to go looking through letters to find later (names, birthdates, family relationships, etc.). I may also make notes about my outgoing letters (stories I’ve told - so I don’t tell them again!, questions I asked, etc.).


Also (I just posted a comment, so I’m adding to it), with a ledger, I can now forego having to rely on the precarious stack of incoming mail to keep me straight on the order in which they came in. I can put them in one general area together (I have a correspondence bag where my pens and paper are so I can write from anywhere) without worrying about keeping them carefully in order. I read them when they arrive, even though I may not get to them to reply for quite some time. It allows me to ruminate on how I might reply and what else I might say long before I get to them. As I said in my previous post - I write long letters (and thus, I’m perpetually behind), but I like this process.


Thank you everyone for your super helpful responses! Karen B, I can assure you that it was I, Karen W, not you, that sent in the inquiry, so you're not totally losing your mind quite yet : ).

Donovan I'm impressed with your restraint! I typically wait for a quiet time during the day to open my incoming mail, so I can savor it without distraction, but I can't imagine not opening it until I was ready to write back. I also keep a ledger of my incoming and outgoing mail to ensure nobody gets forgotten. In it, I like to note what stationary I sent my letters on so that I can keep things colorful!


This is a fascinating thread. So interesting to hear everyone's responses! Happy Long Weekend!


I keep incoming letters in an ordered stack. When I respond to a letter, I stroke out my address on the envelope, record the date I responded, and jot a few brief point-form notes on the back of the envelope of what I wrote about. I usually then sort the letter by correspondent. It seems to work for me!


I used to be a librarian, so some sort of system for my letters is a must! I number each piece of mail—incoming or outgoing—file them, and use a ledger to keep track. I’ve recently moved from paper to an electronic one designed via the good graces of the free database folks at Airtable. I can now see all my correspondence pending, or by correspondent, or those correspondents that need to be marked inactive. I experimented with taking digital snaps of letters for a bit, but this proved too much. I now just have a sentence summing the letter, stationery, etc. in the records. Have fun and find what you like.

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LWA Mission

  • blog_05
    In this era of instantaneous communication, a postal letter is a rare and wondrous item. The Letter Writers Alliance was dedicated to preserving this art form through fostering community and communication through the mail. Membership was active from Summer 2007 to Summer 2020. Write more letters!

The Management

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    The L.W.A. was established in 2007 by Kathy Zadrozny & Donovan Beeson. These two ladies managed every aspect of the Alliance, from design, to packing orders, to maintaining the website. The L.W.A. is a labor of love and we are happy you have joined us in sharing a love for letters.

    Above photo of Donovan & Kathy by GlitterGuts.

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