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I THOUGHT I’d just share this with you. It’s extracts from The Whitehaven Gazette of 1898. The paper was running an Uncle Sam club for children. The paper declared: “The main object in view is to encourage boys and girls to take an interest in the sadly neglected art of letter writing”. Sadly neglected in 1898?! That must make it all but obsolete today!

Boys and girls aged 8 to 14 had to agree to the following conditions:

  • I will try to improve my mind by reading sensible books
  • I will try to write a good plain hand
  • I will be merciful and not cruel to animals, and thus set a good example to others.
  • I will not make use of profane, vulgar or objectionable language
  • I will try to be industrious and active
  • I will try to be honest and truthful

Hear, hear! The paper would set a subject each week (for example gardening) and children would have to write letter to the paper on that subject. The prize was goods to the value of half a crown. Among the other fun things that Uncle Sam provided was a ‘spot the mistake’ column. But as this paragraph demonstrates, the editor wasn’t going to stand any nonsense from the children hoping to win the competition:

“Two applications have been made for the prize for pointing out errors but as one of these contains two instances of bad spelling in the application, and the other does not specify the one error alluded to, the prize will be with-held this week.”

There. That’s told them! Blue Peter it wasn’t!