300-Year-Old Letters Recently Discovered


Unopened letters from 1689-1706 were discovered in the trunk of an old delivery truck from The Hague in the Netherlands.  


As stated in the Independent, the 2,600 letters found in the trunk of the undelivered mail truck will be studied by an international team of researchers in the National Postal Museum. The letters they were researching were as old as 300-years-old, so the researchers had to be really careful with handling them. 


In an attempt to keep their letters hidden and private, the technique they used back then was known as letter locking, which was done by folding a flat sheet of paper to create an envelope. As CNN puts it, this poses a great challenge for the research team to unlock all of the letters. 


Opening the letters, for instance, requires the use of a specific technique. In an attempt to protect the delicate letters, researchers had to open the letters virtually using a highly sensitive x-ray scanner and computer algorithms, according to CNN. “This algorithm takes us right into the heart of a locked letter,” the research team explained. 


The discovery of the letters includes one written by Jacques Sennacques to his cousin. It stated, “It has been a few weeks since I wrote to you in order to ask you to have drawn up for me a legalized excerpt of the death of sieur Daniel Le Pers, which took place in The Hague in the month of December 1695, without hearing from you”, as maintained by CNN.  


A researcher from the National Postal Museum expressed, “Using virtual unfolding to read an intimate story that has never seen the light of day — and never even reached its recipient — is truly extraordinary.” 


The Independent specified that another retrieved letter by a Dutch opera singer on behalf of a mutual friend wrote, “You can divine without difficulty the true cause of her despair, I cannot put it into so many words; what I ought to say to you is so excessive. Content yourself with thinking on it, and returning her to life by procuring her return.” 


Many of these historical letters help scientists understand how life was like 300 years ago. Project leader David van der Linden of the University of Groningen believed that the letters will shed light on the lives of those living in the period, especially that of French Protestant families on the run at the time.