Family Letters Tell of Christian County's Enslaved and Free People

Aug 5, 2012

When was the last time you hand wrote a letter? For most people, not recently. In the 19th century, letters were vital links to family and friends. And for historians today, they are a snapshot of daily life. The Kentucky Historical Society recently added 27 letters to its collection. Called the Watson and Robinson letters, they contain information about the lives of free and enslaved families in Hopkinsville and Lexington. Louise Jones is the director of Special Collections and the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library. Jones spoke with Angela Hatton about the significance of the Watson and Robinson collection.

The Watson and Robinson letters are part of the KHS’s digital collection, and can be accessed free online. The following is a description of one of the letters from the KHS:

The Watson family letters (most by Isabel/Isabella Watson) originate in Mississippi City (Miss.) and include news of people's health and illnesses, activities, church and religion, the enslaved status of people in the Hopkinsville (Ky.) community, births and deaths, and the sale of individuals. Several letters are addressed to Reuben Faulkner, man of color, and Violet Ware, colored servant.