For any history buff who isn't going out to museums at the moment, there's a way to bring historical documents right to your door, thanks to History by Mail. This subscription service sends you a recreation of a historical document or letter each month, so you can get a hands-on tour of an important event without leaving the house. To better understand what History by Mail offers, the company sent me a free packet with four documents and a welcome letter to experience it for myself.
Each new subscriber receives a recreation of a historical document every month, and every four months, the theme changes. The themes themselves mostly revolve around U.S. history, but some topics, like foreign diplomacy, space, and inventions, are more global. Each envelope comes with a historical stamp on it relating to the theme, and inside, you'll find the document in a plastic sleeve, along with a context page to give background on the material. Some packages might include transcription sheets if the original writer's handwriting wasn't easy to read, like the letter Annie Oakley wrote to then-President William McKinley offering the services of 50 female “sharpshooters” for the eventual Spanish-American War in 1898, seen below.
The details on the Oakley document I received are sharp and impressive, and the context page and transcript provided me with some background on Oakley's life and information on the Spanish-American War, which helped make the whole experience more lively. The letter itself is printed on high-quality paper and is reproduced completely, right down to Oakley's personal letterhead (you can see the original here).
The History by Mail curators pore over letters and documents from international historical archives to find ones that fit the themes they cover. Once the document's authenticity is verified, the team creates reproductions that get sent to your doorstep each month. You can look forward to documents like Rosa Parks's police report from 1955 and the check for the purchase of Alaska in 1868. These documents can then be kept as scrapbooking keepsakes, learning materials to send to others, or as a fun activity to look forward to each month for yourself. DIYers out there can probably even make homemade decorations out of some of your favorite ones.
History by Mail has three different tiers available: A one-month subscription for $7, a six-month subscription for $37, and a year-long subscription for $72. When ordering a subscription through the History by Mail site, Mental Floss readers can get 10 percent off when they use the code MENTALFLOSS at checkout. The documents are mailed each month through USPS, with the first one coming a week after placing the order. Subsequent orders will be shipped by the 15th of the month. Uncommon Goods also offers six-month subscriptions for $37.
Learn more about History by Mail by going to their website.