The 52 Letters Project

The 52 Letters Project

~ Reconnecting With The Handwritten Word ~

By: JoAnna Haugen, a full-time freelance writer who never leaves home without a pen and paper.

From an early age, I collected pen pals, stationery and stickers. Despite the fact that many of my letter writing buddies have somehow fallen by the wayside over the years, I continue to collect beautiful paper, sparkly pens and addresses of friends who love to get handwritten letters in the mail.

One of the highlights of my childhood was checking the mailbox for “fun mail.” This included anything with a real stamp, a handwritten address and, very likely, a smattering of stickers across the back. Sundays—and the subsequent lack of mail—were always a let down.

Growing up, I had dozens of pen pals from around the world, and I exchanged almost daily letters with my parents when I lived overseas as a Peace Corps volunteers. Deciphering my father’s handwriting will always be a worthy use of my time. To this day, my sister and I still exchange snail mail, and we often stuff the envelopes with newspaper articles and funky things we’ve clipped from magazines. I’m also a sincere believer of the thank you letter, and I love to write personal notes in my holiday cards. Unfortunately, though, my pen pals have all fallen by the wayside and it just seems so much easier to catch up with old friends via email or Facebook. Though I’ll always take the time to chat with my parents by phone, I can’t as easily preserve those conversations like I can the bundle of letters I’ve received from them over the years.

Despite what many people suggest, I refuse to believe that the handwritten word is dead. It is with this in mind that I’ve decided to rekindle my love of letter writing by chronicling 52 weeks of writing 52 letters to 52 different people. I want to find and write to old friends, pen pals and roommates. I want to touch base with family members I only talk to on holidays. I want to take the time to reach out to many of those people who also love to receive truly personalized snail mail.

The 52 Letters Project is a personal commitment to letter writing and an invitation to connect with others who enjoy doing the same. This website chronicles my letter writing journey, explores the letter writing culture and offers encouragement to others who also find joy in beautiful stationery, colorful pens and meaningful words.

Follow JoAnna's 52 Letters Project at