Thursday, December 20, 2007

Letters to Santa Claus

In the early twentieth century, both of Sandusky's major newspapers (the Register and the Star-Journal) published children's letters to Santa Claus during December. It might be interesting to note the differences between what children asked for then and what they do now.

Based on the small sample of letters reviewed, in newspapers published between 1912 and 1920, among the most popular gifts children asked for were dolls, bicycles, oranges, candy and nuts. Few brand names were mentioned by the letter-writers. It might be a little different today. Most letters were concise requests for presents, but some included brief descriptions of family members and requests on behalf of others. For example, in 1912, Ottomer Schiefly told Santa "Don't forget my little brother as he would like a few things." Miriam Edith Reinheimer, in 1920, spent a significant portion of her letter asking for gifts for others:

"Dear Santa:

If you please Sir I wish mother a box of candy, Papa a shirt, John a neck tie, Jean a doll, Ruth a box of writing paper and please bring me a big doll with real hair, a stove which I can cook on, a ring; my neckless [sic] fixed, and if you please sir I would like a new dress and a ribbon to match it, a kimona [sic].
If you bring me all that I will thank you ever so much. From Miriam Edith Reinheimer.
Please remember my school mates and teacher."

Some letters suggest the hardships children endured -- Margaret Lody Slegman, from Huron, wrote (in 1912): "My papa and aunt and uncle is all right. My mamma is dead and I stay with my auntie." Mary Hanick from Kelleys Island reminded Santa (in 1920), "There is a lot of us in a family. We are poor." Several children -- including Norma Yager from Oak Harbor (1916), Thomas Krafty from Venice (1912), and Geneva Pigersch (1916) -- reminded Santa, "don't forget the poor children."

One letter, published in 1912, was written in German. The letter is the first in the image below. I don't know German, but I think Agnes Patz wanted a doll and a buggie, and she was a good girl.

Microfilm copies of the Sandusky Register and the Star-Journal are available in the Archives Research Center, in the lower level of the library.


PalmsRV said...

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Anonymous said...

Can you please make all your pictures able to be enlarged on the computer. I would really like to see some of these up closer but only a few are posted with that ability. thanks, enjoying the blog so much!