The Love and Importance Behind Handwritten Notes

Handwritten notes have almost become a thing of the past, which may be why they mean so much today.


Photographer: Christian Conte

Kathryn Taylor ’21 enjoys expressing her gratitude and love through handwritten notes.

By Christian Conte, Junior Managing Editor

Let’s hop into a time machine and travel back to 1970, one year before Ray Tomlinson invented email. There is no Internet, no social media, and no texting. Other than in-person communication or talking on the telephone, handwritten notes delivered via mail are the only other form of communication. Now, we live in a world where email, text, phone calls, and social media messages are society’s primary form of communication, and handwritten notes have almost become a thing of the past, which may be why they mean so much today.

To begin, there is a mutual relationship with choosing to handwrite letters – it benefits the writer and the receiver! According to a study from Kent State University, making a habit of writing thoughtful letters of gratitude makes you “feel happier and feel more satisfied.” On the other hand, the person who receives the handwritten note will feel loved and special for getting such a surprise in the mail!

Another advantage of handwritten notes is personalization. Nowadays, emails are a handy tool for sending information to mass numbers of people, but it removes any personalization or individuality. Even with just a specific name and address on an envelope, handwritten notes take time and effort for each stroke– there is no simple copy-and-paste, reply-all method with handwritten notes. And upon receiving a note in this format, one automatically recognizes the effort put into the note regardless of its content inside.

The Marist Admissions Office clearly understands the impact handwritten notes can have, as they require shadow hosts or student ambassadors to hand-write thank-you notes to the students or families visiting the school. These handwritten notes “show that we appreciate the time that each individual took to learn more about Marist School,” said Angela Elledge ’88, Associate Director of Admissions. Of course, sending an email to a visiting family is much easier and saves a lot of time, but email does not carry the same power that handwritten notes do. “In a world full of digital communication,” said Elledge, “we intentionally put pen to paper.”

Many seniors and juniors at Marist feel the care behind receiving a handwritten note on Emmaus. Opening letters from your family and friends who dedicated time and thought into making your Emmaus that much more special can mean a lot on the retreat and only grow the sense of love and faith surrounding the retreatant.

Photograph of a Handwritten Note from the Author
Christian Conte

For me, handwritten notes are one of my favorite possessions. Their individuality and love are a constant reminder of my self-worth as well as how lucky I am to have such amazing friends. For this reason, I choose to keep all my handwritten notes and display them in my room so that every day before I leave for school and every night before bed, I can glance at them for motivation and gratitude.

My friend Kathryn Taylor ’21 (pictured above) is known for the thoughtfulness behind her handwritten notes. For her, they mean so much because“someone sat down and thought about what they were going to say and wrote it out, just for you. It’s pure from the heart.” Kathryn’s delivers cards for a range of occasions, from birthday and thank-you cards to “good luck on exams”or just a thank you for being a really good friend. Even though the notes are merely words on a page, they are powerful, profound, and mean the world to me.

So, the next time the opportunity is presented to thank someone, perhaps consider going a little old-school and handwriting a thank-you note to that person. But if you really want to genuinely thank a person, why not try doing it face-to-face, too? You never know what joy and gratitude might come from that.