Interesting Things in those Boxes

You find interesting things in those boxes you’ve been shuffling around for years.

This is a V-Mail to my father from his father dated March 28, 1943. My father was an NROTC student in New Orleans and my grandfather was on active duty in New Zealand.

Think about it. They couldn’t simply pick up the phone or drop an email or text message. Letters to and from sailors, soldiers and Marines meant the world to them and their families and V-Mail changed the way they corresponded.

Short for "Victory Mail," V-mail was developed by Eastman Kodak and was the main way soldiers stationed abroad could communicate with friends and family back home. Prior, one of the only ways to reach loved ones was through Air Mail, which was sent by airplane and was often more expensive than regular mail and took too long to be used for any urgent messages. V-mail allowed for faster, less expensive correspondence. Because the letters were censored before being transferred to microfilm, V-mail was one of the most secure methods of communication. After letters arrived at their destination, the negatives would be blown up to full size and printed. In addition to increased security, this method meant saving shipping space that could otherwise be used for necessary war materials. Using this small microfilm saved the postal system thousands of tons of shipping space, fitting the equivalent of 37 mail bags worth of letters into just one. As primary sources, letters sent by V-mail offer great insight into how soldiers and their loved ones handled things like shortages, rationing and the fear of war.

This is just an example of the letters, documents and photos that you can learn from when you start poking around those boxes. And if you haven’t got time to explore right now, try to store them where they won’t be affected by humidity and temperature swings. Have questions or need advice? Reach out to me at HeirShare and I’ll be glad to help.

Adair Watters

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