Handwritten correspondence. Snail mail. Post. Letters. With the advent of the Internet, snail mail may be a less common way to communicate, but it is in no way dead. Just as society continued to use letters post-telephone as a way of communicating, so it continues to do so now. Whether you’re writing a meaningful note to an old friend or starting a new friendship with a pen pal, you’ll find plenty of resources here to get you started. Items are divided by the following categories: History, Memoirs, & Prose (nonfiction about letter-writing and the experiences of letter-writers), Collections (collected letters written by individuals both famous and unknown), Ideas & DIY (crafty ways to have a little fun with your correspondence), and Pen Pal Resources (how-to’s, where to find pen pals, and other tidbits). Some items may be cross-listed and noted with an asterisk (*). Electronic materials will be noted with a double asterisk (**). Items are listed in alphabetical order by title. When available, links to items for purchase will be presented. This is not to advocate for or endorse any one store or brand over another, but to offer some of the many available options. Materials listed are appropriate for teens and adults. Questions? Leave them in the comments of this resource guide and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

This pathfinder was created as an assignment for INFO 210-10 (3U), for the Reference and Information Services course at San José State University in Fall 2015.

About the Creator

Abby Hargreaves is a student in San José State University’s Master of Library and Information Science program. She plans to graduate in May 2016 and looks forward to a career in a public library, working with teens and adults in reference and programming services. Abby lives, reads, and writes in Arlington, Virginia. She has three pen pals and regularly corresponds with other individuals in her life.


Want to know about real people writing real letters for the love of mail? Here, you’ll find some excellent options for just that topic. Discover the benefits, feats, and connective power of snail mail.


collectionsCurious about what famous individuals such as C.S. Lewis were writing their friends and acquaintances about? Or maybe you’re more interested in the lives of children in the Great Depression’s Dust Bowl. Either way, you’ll find curated collections of real letters in the titles below.


ideasdiyYou’re committed to writing, but what to write? This section will guide you on your way to fun and meaningful missives with plenty of ideas on not only what to write about, but how to design it, and unusual items to send.


penpalsDon’t have a pen pal, but want one? Want to know shipping costs? Solutions to those problems and more below. Sites for finding pen pals are denoted with a caret (^). Letter writers should always use caution when engaging with pen-pal-finding services and are responsible for their use of any of the listed sites.



Want to know about letter-writing and pen pal relationships in the news? Check out some of these articles below.