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Archive Collections at HHC: Personal Correspondence

Guide to material held at Hull History Centre, arranged by theme, creator and document type

“We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverably for ourselves and for others”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Elective Affinities 

Personal Correspondence

Research Themes Supported

Hull History Centre holds significant collections of personal correspondence. Such records can aid research into:

  • Current Affairs
  • Political Events
  • Leisure Time
  • Familial Relations
  • Travel
  • Everyday Life
  • Political Constituency Business
  • Operation of Businesses, Societies, Charities and Organisations
  • Female Literacy and Interests
  • Operation of Estates
  • Weather and Climate

Key Information Content of Records

The following are common categories of information which feature in this record type:

  • Full or partial postal address of sender
  • Address of recipient, if envelope survives
  • Business related updates and requests
  • Personal news and opinions
  • Comments re subjects of interest to correspondents
  • Comments on current affairs and events of note

Where Record Type is Usually Found

This record type commonly survives in the following categories of archival collection:

  • Records created by landed families
  • Writers’ papers
  • Records created by societies and organisations
  • Business records
  • Charity records
  • Local Authority records
  • Papers of Members of Parliament

Typical formats

Personal correspondence can survive in a number of formats, including: manuscript letters; typescript letters; postcards; emails; telegrams.


Additional Supporting Material

The following secondary literature provides contextual background and useful further information when trying to understand and use this record type:

  • James Daybell, The Material Letter in Early Modern England: Manuscript Letters and the Culture and Practices of Letter-Writing 1512-1635 (2012)
  • Maire Cross, Caroline Bland, Gender and Politics in the Age of Letter-Writing, 1750-2000 (2019)
  • David Prochaska, Jordana Mendelson, Postcards: Ephemeral Histories of Modernity (2010)

Downloadable list of material

The following PDF contains a list of collections with significant personal correspondence held at HHC.