Out of the Pencils of Babes: Children’s Letters to Mayor Armstrong

Last week we brought you writing and illustration for children and this week we follow up with writing and illustration by children.

At some point your grade school education, perhaps you were obliged to write a letter to a Very Important Person. This modest assignment simultaneously cultivates many skills and competencies such as penmanship, conventions of correspondence, and civic involvement. In the case of "Thank You" letters, politeness and gratitude also make the list.

If you've ever wondered what happens to all those childhood missives to politicians, I am pleased to tell you that at least some of them end up cataloged and preserved in manuscript collections. It is not often that the "important stuff of history" warms archivists' hearts or makes them laugh out loud but such is the case with a delightful set of folders I found in our collection of papers belonging to Louisville's former Mayor, David L. Armstrong (1941-2017). Labeled "Youth," the folders contain hundreds of letters and cards Louisville schoolchildren wrote, decorated, and sent to Armstrong during his four year tenure as Mayor (1999-2003). Often, these were notes of gratitude, thanking Armstrong for visiting their class or making an appearance at an event or field trip. Below, enjoy just a small sample of the sweetness and hilarity from the files. (click on pictures to enlarge and then navigate through the gallery)

Did you or someone you love write a letter to Mayor Armstrong in gradeschool? If so, it might be a part of history now, viewable by researching in the David L. Armstrong Papers at the Filson!

Abby Glogower

Abby Glogower is Curator of Jewish Collections and the Jewish Community Archive at the Filson. In her spare time she can be found riding her bike, cooking vegan food, reading American realist fiction, and playing with her three dogs.

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