Letters to Santa provide a glimpse into the past

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As it often happens, while one is searching for one particular item, another appears. 

Such was the case when Tina Jones was doing a genealogical search for a local resident and stumbled on a page of letters to Santa published on Dec. 17, 1918, in the Nashville Globe, an African American newspaper started by a former slave from Texas. It began publishing in 1906 and provided local African American news – including news from towns surrounding Nashville - weekly until the 1930s when it merged and became the Nashville Globe and Independent. The Globe and Independent’s last publication was in 1960.

“[The paper is] a great resource,” said Jones. 

As she read the letters, she realized there were whole pages of letters to Santa from kids in Franklin and Spring Hill.

Jones began another research project to find out who the children were and what became of them. She discovered they came from hardworking, loving and close-knit families; they were being well educated and many were related.

In their letters, the children asked Santa Claus for apples, oranges, nuts, raisins, candy, clothes, toys and “everything nice for a little [boy/girl]”. Many requested items for siblings, friends and family members. 

In 1918, the United States was involved in World War I. A number of African American fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins joined the military and were stationed overseas. Several of the older children referenced relatives serving in the military and asked Santa to remember them and “bring them something nice.” Like families do today, moms or older siblings wrote infants and toddlers letters.

We invite you to enjoy a few of the letters and have a Merry Christmas!

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