Pick of the Month–Vintage Letter Books

What to do with that collection of old letters? I’m intrigued with creative ideas for preserving and displaying clients’ letters in ways that showcase their uniqueness. While searching for “memory arts” inspiration on Pinterest I found a pin of Sue Bleiweiss’ blog on Vintage Letter Books.

She graciously gave permission for me to share this with you. Turns out this is an old blog and as an award winning fiber artist she is currently creating a variety of other gorgeous  projects. Check out her website at www.suebleiweiss.com.


People are often unsure of what to do with their collection of family letters. Usually letters are stored in a box or bin and it’s difficult to enjoy them easily. I’ve scanned letters into digital format and created an electronic collection something like an e-book on CD. This is a great way to have a backup of hard copy letters for preservation’ sake.

However, the tactile satisfaction of holding an actual letter can’t be beat.

Why not take these one of a kind letters and create your own historical family art? Sue’s idea shows you how to create stunning hard bound books from letter collections. Start with an old hardbound book of your own to get the quality cover and hand sewn spine for a project foundation.  Don’t have an old book? Goodwill and thrift stores can score one for a dollar or two.


Read an excerpt from her blog where she describes several different ways she’s created these vintage letter books:

Letters to Mary…

I have become quite fond of working with vintage documents, letters and photos lately. Recently I had purchased a set of 13 old letters written to a young girl named Mary Helen Epler over the period of 1940 to 1946 and I decided to bind them into a book:

They are all in their original envelopes and looking through them is an interesting way to get a glimpse of what was going on in the world at that time. As I read through them I

learned that Mary’s birthday was July 14th and that she corresponded regularly with her grandpa who suffered a heart attack in 1942 and died shortly after. There’s a letter to her written just a couple of weeks before he died (in the photo below) in which he tells her that the Dr’s told him that spending three more weeks in bed would make him a new man. He was looking forward to listening to the Cardinals and Cubs game later that day and hoped that the Cardinals would win. Just a couple of weeks later she received a condolence letter about his death.

At the time it cost only 3 cents to mail a letter and the postmarks encourage buying war bonds. In a letter to Mary from her Aunt Elizabeth in July of 43 she asks Helen if she and her mother are doing any war work and talks about a gas shortage. There is no mention of Mary’s father in any of the letters.

I thought about these letters as I created the book that I bound them in and I couldn’t help wondering what became of Mary. Assuming that she was a teenager in 46 she could be in her 80’s now. I wonder where she is and what she’s doing and how her letters ended up in the hands of an Etsy seller who sold them to me.


What a beautiful and inspiring way to capture your family’s history. Think what a stunning gift this would make for your parents or grandparents. I’d love to collaborate on a project like this so get in touch if you have a letter collection you’d like to showcase.

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    Karen Ray

    Address: 331 Bristol Avenue, Las Cruces, NM, 88001

    Phone: 575-323-1048