My Research Adventures

Kisses from the 1840s

Nina Powell was 6 years old in 1848 when she wanted her kisses included in family letters, and she wanted them clearly labeled so that the recipients could find them and know which was which. This became a sweet and tangible way for little Nina to participate in the letters.

This began when her sisters Rebecca and Minna were sent from Leesburg to Gloucester County to visit extended family. Their mother would end each letter by sending the family's love and kisses. Yet, Nina wanted hers to be included literally, and for each one to be marked and labeled. In the example shown here, we can see that the kiss on the left is labeled, "John's kiss," and the one on the right is, "Sister Becca's kiss." John was their two year old first cousin (the son of Aunt Rebecca Lloyd Tabb and her husband Dr. Prosser Tabb of Gloucester County).

In return, Nina began to look for kisses back to her in the letters arriving at the house. In one letter dated November of 1848, Mrs. Powell writes, "Nin hunts all over the letters for kisses & when she does not find any, she says 'I reckon they think I’ve had enough'."

More example kisses that were sent and received are included below. These sweet kisses are almost 170 years old.

Images courtesy of the Powell Family Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William and Mary.

©2020 by Alison Herring