Love Letters 1916-1923

Love Letters | Letters 1916-1923

St. Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated on 14 February each year with e-cards and gifts of roses and chocolates, often ordered on the internet. Within this context, love letters, sent by ordinary post, might seem old-fashioned and nostalgic. In 1916, however, love letters were sometimes one of the only ways of expressing feelings to loved ones, especially those at a distance.

The Letters of 1916-1923 project contains the written words and the forgotten words of ordinary people during during this extraordinary time in Irish history. Love letters are part of this picture too. For the day that’s in it, we have chosen some LOVE(ly) highlights from the collection.

 


Postcard from Thomas Murphy to his sister Anna Murphy

Postcard from Thomas Murphy to his sister Anna Murphy, 11 February 1916


Michael and Susan Gorman
Michael and Susan Gorman

Michael Gorman and Susan Fitzgerald came from very different backgrounds. He spent his early years with ten siblings, in a large thatched cottage on the family farm of Ballinalug on the northern slopes of the Slieve Bloom Mountains near Clara Hill. She grew up on the other side of the mountains, in a large house called Raheenahone, near Stradbally.

What made their relationship so special was the fact that she was Church of Ireland Protestant and he was Catholic. As a consequence, neither family wanted the other, and Michael and Sue had to spend half a decade meeting in secret and exchanging letters in what was a love affair that would last all their lives.

Click here to read more of MIchael and Susan’s story


 

Letter from May Fay to James Finn,14 February 1916

James Finn and May Fay's wedding photograph
James Finn and May Fay’s wedding photograph, image courtesy of Tessa Finn

This letter comes from a series written between James Finn and his fiancée Mary (May) Fay. They became engaged in January 1916 and married in June. He lived in Dublin, she in Westmeath. At 39 years of age, he was 20 years her senior. He had become acquainted with her during his regular visits to his relative Mrs Mary Seery, her neighbour. Throughout the correspondence, their relationship develops from their first somewhat tentative letters.

 

Tessa Finn is one of the individual (as opposed to institutional) contributors to the Letters of 1916. She shared this collection of letters between her grandparents, which she describes as “a document of their love and their time.”

 

As Tessa writes: “These letters between James Finn and May Fay, most of them written in 1916, are part of my family’s inheritance, lovingly treasured by my grandmother, May. She had every reason to cling on to these reminders of the love of her life, my grandfather James Finn. They were married not quite six years when he died leaving her, twenty-five years old and seven months pregnant with their fourth child. They are a document of their love and their time.”

 

– Tessa Finn, Letters – May & James: A Private love in a Revolutionary Year – 1916


Click here to read or here to transcribe more Love Letters.

 

 

Letters 1916-1923 has been nominated for a Digital Humanities Award

DH Awards | Letters 1916-1923

We are delighted to be nominated for a DH Award for our public engagement in 2017!

The Digital Humanities Awards are a set of annual awards where the public is able to nominate resources for the recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities community. The resources are nominated and voted for entirely by the public.

You can vote for your favourite DH projects until 25 February 2018.

If you’ve transcribed with us, donated a letter to the collection or used the Letters 1916-1923 database for your work, please consider voting for us in the Public Engagement section of the DH Awards website:

http://dhawards.org/dhawards2017/voting/

Women’s Suffrage in the Letters 1916-1923 collection

Women's Suffrage in Letters 1916-1923

Today marks 100 years since Irish women over the age of 30 were granted the right to vote.

The Letters 1916-1923 collection contains correspondence relating to the struggle for increased women’s rights and we have chosen some interesting highlights from the collection.


Sheehy Skeffington Papers

The largest selection of Letters 1916-1923 relating to women’s suffrage is from the National Library of Ireland‘s Sheehy Skeffington Papers.

Hanna Sheehy SkeffingtonHanna Sheehy Skeffington (1877-1946), suffragette, nationalist, language teacher, was the founder of the Irish Women’s Franchise League and a founding member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union. She was active during the 1916 Rising – she brought food to the Volunteers in the G.P.O. and the College of Surgeons. She was married to Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (1878-1916) who was summarily executed on 26 April 1916. Four days passed before she found out what had happened to her husband and it wasn’t until almost two weeks later that the full details of his execution emerged.

In 1916, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was organising a concert to raise funds for The Irish Citizen newspaper. There is a series of postcards and letters relating to the concert – just search for Hanna Sheehy Skeffington on the Letters 1916-1923 site to read them.

This special guest podcast episode was recorded by Letters 1916 interns, Emily Blackburn and Madison Ganson, from Beloit College, Wisconsin. The episode focuses on Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, the Irish Citizen newspaper, and the pursuit of Irish labour rights.


Activism

Military Archives of Ireland
© Military Archives of Ireland

Eva Gore-Booth was a poet, trade unionist, suffragist, and an active social campaigner, mostly on women’s issues. She was a contributor to the Irish literary revival from the late 1890s. She was active in the campaign for a reprieve of her sister, Constance Markievicz’s death sentence for her participation in the Easter Rising and for the improvement of her prison conditions.

In this letter to Helena Malony (1883-1967), Eva Gore-Booth enquires about Malony and the rules regarding letters and visitors and refers to her sister, Constance as well as other female prisoners, Dr Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine French-Mullen.

My sister says man never made a wall but God threw a gap in it as an old woman used to say at home


Women’s Health

The Letters 1916-1923 collection includes a large number of letters from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Archives. From 1910 until 1954 Thomas Percy Kirkpatrick (1869-1954) served as the registrar for the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He also served as the general secretary of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. Kirkpatrick took a particular interest in what were then termed venereal diseases (now sexually transmitted diseases). To encourage his patients to attend, he held a clinic for women at Steevens’ hospital at a discreet early morning hour to facilitate anonymity.

Read more about Thomas Kirkpatrick in this blog post by Harriet Wheelock.

RCPI Archives
© RCPI Archives

This letter from the RCPI Archives was written by Ishbel Maria Gordon (1857-1939) and is written on ‘Women’s National Health Association of Ireland’ headed paper. Gordon was a philanthropist and Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair. In 1893 she was elected president of the nascent International Congress of Women, a federation of women’s organisations. In this role (1893–9 and 1904–36) she played a major part in building up its international network (and rebuilding it after the first world war). She was also president of the Women’s Liberal Federation, 1901–6, which eventually split over her support for women’s suffrage.

 

 

 


There are many more letters in the Letters 1916-1923 which are related to the struggle for women’s rights and women’s issues in the 1916-1923 period. Visit our website to find more.

Transcription Progress: January 2018

January 2018

In January 2018 you transcribed 55559 characters in total.

In January 2018, we reviewed our metrics and the total number of registered users in the system is 1978.

Currently 4366 letters have been uploaded to the system, of which 3678 are available to view and transcribe online. You can explore the completed and fully transcribed letters in more detail here.

THANK YOU All for contributing to the Letters 1916-1923 Project!

LETTERS:

  • 4378 letters uploaded to the system, of which 3770 have been made public to date (31 January 2018)
  • 29 new letters uploaded to the system since 31 December 2017

STATUS of the letters:

  • Transcriptions not started: 53 letters
  • Transcriptions in progress: 15 letters
  • Transcriptions that need proofing and reviewing: 952 letters
  • Transcriptions proofed and completed: 2766 letters

TOP 5 TRANSCRIBERS IN DECEMBER 2017

# username characters
1 Jk123 12371
2 Dansimo90 7892
3 Apeetha 5695
4 CFMcDonald 5125
5 Miroc80 5005

Progress Update: December 2017

In December 2017 you transcribed 69663 characters in total. In December 2017, we welcomed 114 new users, bringing the total number of registered users to 2108. Currently 4366 letters have been uploaded to the system, of which 3678 are available to view and transcribe online. You can explore the completed and fully transcribed letters in more … Read more

Progress Update: November 2017

In November 2017 you transcribed 58841 characters in total. In November 2017, we welcomed 114 new users, bringing the total number of registered users to 2108. Currently 4366 letters have been uploaded to the system, of which 3678 are available to view and transcribe online. You can explore the completed and fully transcribed letters in … Read more

Progress Update: October 2017

In October 2017 you transcribed 131751 characters in total. In October 2017, we welcomed 8 new users, bringing the total number of registered users to 1994. Currently 4337 letters have been uploaded to the system, of which 3643 are available to view and transcribe online. You can explore the completed and fully transcribed letters in more detail here. THANK … Read more

Progress Update: August / September 2017

In August/September 2017 you transcribed 101324 characters in total. In August/September 2017, we welcomed 69 new users, bringing the total number of registered users to 1986. Currently 4321 letters have been uploaded to the system, of which 3599 are available to view and transcribe online. You can explore the completed and fully transcribed letters in more detail here. THANK … Read more