The Lazy Historian

History by Mail: the Past in Your Mailbox
June 20, 2020

Ari of History By Mail kindly offered to send me a sample of their product in exchange for an honest review.

I have always loved getting mail. Even before online shopping became a thing, one of the reasons I began writing to penpals was to get something special in the mail—something that came from far away and sent just for me. I would imagine its travels and all the people involved in getting it from point A to B. There has always been something magical about that.

Mail just got even more magical. Not only can mail travel great distances, now it can travel through time as well.

History By Mail is a monthly membership service for history nerds. With a focus on American history, users pick their particular interest from a varying range of topics. Once a month over the course of four months, subscribers receive a replica of a historical document and a pamphlet explaining the context of that document and a little bit more background information about the people involved.

First of all, History By Mail does not scrimp on the aesthetics. The historical and educational experience starts as soon as you hold the envelope in your hands. Even the envelope looks like it’s from another century and old-fashioned stamps donned the corner. Inside, the replicas are provided within clear plastic to protect them.

I was really impressed with the print quality of the replicas. You can tell a lot of thought and care were put into the production of the replicas and their accompanying documentation. They’re even printed on yellow, textured paper that looks like it really is old. Very well done and thoughtfully made.

I loved the two samples I received. I might actually frame them and put them up in my house.

My sample pack provided by History by Mail included two replicas relating to the themes of Women Who Shaped America and Celebrity Correspondence with Presidents.

The first replica was an 1895 letter from famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley to President William McKinley, offering both encouraging words and her services for the ongoing Spanish-American War. The letter was written on what looks to be an Annie Oakley event flyer. The accompanying document includes a transcript of the letter (in case Annie’s chicken scratch is illegible) and two pages of background information on both Oakley and the Spanish-American War.

The other sample I received was a replica of an indictment document for Susan B. Anthony for “illegal voting” from New York in 1873. On the back of this replica is a handwritten testimony of Edwin P. March, an election inspector who testified as a witness in U.S. v. Susan B. Anthony. The accompanying information sheets for this replica include a typed version of the handwritten testimony (much appreciated) and two full pages of background information on the American suffrage movement, specifically on this act of rebellion.

History By Mail is an incredibly unique, fun, and fascinating way to learn about history. The high-quality document replicas make the event seem more real and not just an abstract event from years gone by. It’s obvious the folks behind this subscription service really love choosing items and helping others learn in a new and interesting way. So cool, love this.

Jillianne Hamilton is a history enthusiast, a hoarder of books, and the author of The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. Jill launched The Lazy Historian in 2015. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada’s beautiful east coast. Learn more.
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Hi, I'm Jillianne.

I'm a lover of history, a hoarder of books, and the author of The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII.

The Lazy Historian is a history blog featuring stories from the past with sass. With a focus on Western European and women's history, I delve into anything fascinating. Learn more.

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