A pictorial letter card of Beer

There are times I still have to pinch myself that I have a job where I get to spend large parts – on this project most – of my time cataloguing other people’s correspondence ( I recently talked about this on my non-work blog as well ‘on reading other people’s letters’).  Now admittedly this is not always interesting correspondence and I don’t read every letter – that would be impossible, not to mention pretty poor project time-management – however I do have to skim all the letters to decide if they’re worth reading.  Even when the letters themselves are a bit dull though they can still be very appealing objects.  A perfect example of this is in the current folder of branch correspondence I’m cataloguing.  These folders contain lots of standard  content regardless of the branch – requests for NUWT literature, arrangements for branch meetings, reports of changes to the staff of the branch etc.  The letter shown below from 1933 is no different in content but instead of the usual handwritten NUWT letter-headed stationery this one was written whilst the teacher was on holiday in Devon.  It’s called a ‘pictorial letter card’ and has photographs (I assume reproductions from postcards) of Beer and Seaton in Devon. 

NUWT Collection ref UWT/D/384/2 ©Institute of Education Archive

As well as the branch business she also talks about what a nice holiday she is having in Devon. I just love this aspect of the correspondence – all the glimpses of the personality of these women teachers – which comes through as much in the informal chitchat as it does through their reports of equal pay and equal educational opportunities campaign work they’ve been involved in.

I have to confess when I first saw this which says ‘Pictorial letter card of beer’ on the envelope side I immediately had images of lots of photos of pints of beer as I had never heard of a place called beer in Devon.   I did wonder what a women teacher in the 1930s would be doing sending the General Secretary of her union a collection of postcards of beer – so, not only I have found an interesting letter in this folder, I’ve also improved my geography of England!


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