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December exhibit celebrates a cherished Christmas tradition

The tradition of American children writing letters to Santa Claus can be traced to the emergence of a robust postal system in the United States during the Civil War. While children had been accustomed to receiving letters from Santa that praised good and encouraged better behavior, a more efficient and inexpensive postal system made it easier for children to write letters to Santa. Children across America have been writing Santa letters ever since.

Over the past 150 years, the “Dear Santa” letter has made its way deep into American culture and can be found hiding in BYU’s Special Collections in the form of handwritten letters, music scores, children’s books, and more. The items in this exhibit reveal the different roles Santa has played and some of the desires Americans have projected onto him over time.

Through this exhibit, experience the merriment and longing of Christmases past and reflect upon what writing letters to Santa and the Christmas season means to you.

The exhibit was entirely curated by the students of the Intro to American Studies class (AM ST 303), including Megan Bailey, Samuel Call, Alyse Frogley, Maren Hamilton, Wyatt Johnson, Cole Nisson, Richard Scott, Abigail Shelton, and Hailey Weight.












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