Wednesday, 9 September 2009

God is great....God is great

On December 26th of 2003, less than a fortnight after his captureSaddam Hussein gave the following letter to his jailers. In it, he complained of beatings, sleep deprivation due to the sounds associated with others being tortured, and generally poor conditions. 

He was executed 3 years later.

Translation follows.

(Source: Daily News; Image: Saddam Hussein at trial in 2004, via Wikipedia.)

In the name of God the Compassionate and Most Merciful

From Saddam Hussein / The President of the Republic of Iraq to whom it may concern.

I have been in this place since 12/13/2003, when I was captured until this day 12/26/2003, in addition to the harm and beatings that I have received following my capture on 12/13/2003, after which not a single part of my body was spared of the severe harm that was inflicted by the detention gang, and where some of the traces are still visible on my body until now, what I wanted to inform the concerned authorities now is that my opportunity to sleep in this place is limited and almost scarce, even though I am laying down on my bed the majority of the time, so in order in order for you to know the truth as it is, for example the last three days my total hours of sleep did not exceed four to five hours during all these days, because the place I am in, is similar in its condition to all detention places, it seems, that it was transformed into a place for torturing the detainees at night in general, and also during the day most of the time, in addition to the disturbing sound effects of those who are been interrogated or tortured, and I don't think that there is anyone with a sensitive and humanitarian heart, who can sleep amidst the screams of the torturers and the ones being tortured, and the many blows of the doors and the squeaking sounds of the chairs.

Look into this matter and other matters if this is of interest to you, if not God will look and see from his heaven, and look upon anyone who stands in front of him in judgement.

God is great...God is great.

Servant until death

Here's an incredibly interesting letter from 1857, written by a lady called Vilet Lester and sent to someone by the name of Patsey Patterson. Vilet Lester was a slave and prior to this letter being written had at some point been owned by the Patterson family before moving on. In the letter she states that she's been sold several times before arriving at her current location. More info can be found here.


Georgia Bullock Co August 29th 1857

My Loving Miss Patsy

I hav long bin wishing to imbrace this presant and pleasant opertunity of unfolding my Seans and fealings Since I was constrained to leav my Long Loved home and friends which I cannot never gave my Self the Least promis of returning to. I am well and this is Injoying good hlth and has ever Since I Left Randolph. whend I left Randolf I went to Rockingham and Stad there five weaks and then I left there and went to Richmon virgina to be Sold and I Stade there three days and was bought by a man by the name of Groover and braught to Georgia and he kept me about Nine months and he being a trader Sold me to a man by the name of Rimes and he Sold me to a man by the name of Lester and he has owned me four years and Says that he will keep me til death Siperates us without Some of my old north Caroliner friends wants to buy me again. my Dear Mistress I cannot tell my fealings nor how bad I wish to See youand old Boss and Mss Rahol and Mother. I do not now which I want to See the worst Miss Rahol or mother I have thaugh that I wanted to See mother but never befour did I no what it was to want to See a parent and could not. I wish you to gave my love to old Boss Miss Rahol and bailum and gave my manafold love to mother brothers and sister and pleas to tell them to Right to me So I may here... (Page 2 cont.) ...from them if I cannot See them and also I wish you to right to me and Right me all the nuse. I do want to now whether old Boss is Still Living or now and all the rest of them and I want to now whether balium is maried or no. I wish to now what has Ever become of my Presus little girl. I left her in goldsborough with Mr. Walker and I have not herd from her Since and Walker Said that he was going to Carry her to Rockingham and gave her to his Sister and I want to no whether he did or no as I do wish to See her very mutch and Boss Says he wishes to now whether he will Sell her or now and the least that can buy her and that he wishes a answer as Soon as he can get one as I wis himto buy her an my Boss being a man of Reason and fealing wishes to grant my trubled breast that mutch gratification and wishes to now whether he will Sell her now. So I must come to a close by Escribing my Self you long loved and well wishing play mate as a Servant until death

Vilet Lester
of Georgia
to Miss Patsey Padison
of North Caroliner

My Bosses Name is James B Lester and if you Should think a nuff of me to right me which I do beg the faver of you as a Sevant direct your letter to Millray Bullock County Georgia. Pleas to right me So fare you well in love.


The PMRC, formed in 1984, are the committee responsible for the introduction of Parental Advisory stickers on CD covers. The committee was formed by the 'Washington Wives'; four women who are also married to members of government, most notably Al Gore's wife, Tipper Gore. Musician Frank Zappa strongly opposed this form of censorship and sent the following letter (and others) to all members of his fan club.


Dear Friend,

Here is the package we have prepared to assist you in any local effort you care to initiate in opposition THE WIVES OF BIG BROTHER and their dangerous program.

Included is the typical PMRC fund-raising letter. We want you to see for yourselves what their pitch is. If you agree with their point of view, do what their letter tells you to do. If you don't, use the addresses they have provided (people to complain to), and, instead of complaining, encourage them to broadcast things that YOU like. If they are not broadcasting enough of what YOU like, tell them what YOUR ENTERTAINMENT PREFERENCES ARE, and DEMAND MORE OF IT. If you don't make your feelings known, you are going to be stuck with watching and listening to the stuff THEY LIKE.

Also included is a copy of my letter to the President and my CASHBOX editorial. Feel free to quote any of this material in letters you might write to your elected represent atives.

The PMRC has a lot of nerve to ask for money ... they are already very well funded, well connected, and seem to have the entire U.S. news media in their back pocket. This mailing, all legal fees, phone bills and travel costs connected with fighting this issue have been paid for out of profits from Barking Pumpkin record sales, and from Barfko-Swill mail order funds. We thank you for buying these items. Without the orders you have already placed, a real opposing view to this issue would never have been heard.

Okay ... it's up to you now. Don't let yourselves down.. Take some time and help protect YOUR Constitutional Rights. You know how to use a phone. You know how to write letters. Make some noise about this issue. Use YOUR imagination. DON'T BEND OVER FOR THE WIVES OF BIG BROTHER.


Frank Zappa

This is the Zodiac speaking

Below is just one of many letters sent to the San Fransisco Police Department by the self-titled Zodiac Killer, a person whose identity is still unknown. This particular taunt was received June 26, 1970. 5 deaths have been officially attributed to the Zodiac Killer whilst the killer claimed to have actually murdered 37 people. The case is still open.


This is the Zodiac speaking.

I have become very upset with the people of San Fran Bay Area. They have not complied with my wishes for them to wear some nice (symbol) buttons. I promised to punish them if they did not comply, by anilating a full School Buss. But now school is out for the summer, so I punished them in another way. I shot a man sitting in a parked car with a .38.

(Symbol) -12   SFPD - 0

The Map coupled with this code will tell you where the bomb is set. You have untill next Fall to dig it up.


I wrote a book called THE GODFATHER

In 1970, before Coppola had taken the helm, author Mario Puzo scribbled and sent the following letter to Marlon Brando in an effort to cast him in the movie adaptation of his novel, The Godfather. However, the studio, well aware of Brando's recent bad form and notoriously overbearing demands, were less enthusiastic and refused to cast him despite his immediate interest. Had it not been for Coppola later coming on board and subsequently fighting for Brando's inclusion, Puzo's wishes could easily have been ignored.

Transcript follows.

(This letter, along with 124 other fascinating pieces of correspondence, can be found in the bestselling book, Letters of Note. For more info, visit Books of Note)

NEW YORK, N. Y. 11706

Jan 23

Dear Mr Brando

I wrote a book called THE GODFATHER which has had some success and I think you're the only actor who can play the part Godfather with that quiet force and irony (the book is an ironical comment on American society) the part requires. I hope you’ll read the book and like it well enough to use whatever power you can to get the role.

I'm writing Paramount to the same effect for whatever good that will do.

I know this was presumptuous of me but the least I can do for the book is try. I really think you'd be tremendous. Needless to say I've been an admirer of your art.

Mario Puzo

A mutual friend, Jeff Brown, gave me your address

The creative work is performed by young men

Back in 1938, women who applied for animation jobs at Disney were destined to receive a visually attractive but ultimately depressing rejection letter like the one below — a missive in which it was advised to instead shoot for a lower star in the tracing department; a place where, it seems, ladies could be trusted with ink.

Interestingly, in 1942, four years after this particular letter was sent, Retta Scott (pictured above) became the first woman to be credited as an animator at Disney, for her work on Bambi.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Kevin Burg; Image of Retta Scott via.)

June 7, 1938

Miss Mary V. Ford

Dear Miss Ford,

Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting Department for reply.

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with Indian ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as "Inker" or "Painter" it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,




Dear All,

"A fascinating blog..." - Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic
"...a fantastic blog..." - Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
"The internet's cultural magpie" - GQ Magazine
"Fantastic idea [...] and well done too" - Jason Kottke,
"...a wonderful collection..." - Scott Beale, Laughing Squid


Letters of Note is a blog-based archive of fascinating correspondence, complete with scans and transcripts of the original missives where available.

I have a seemingly endless supply of correspondence to plough through, but your input is always welcome. Get in touch via If you wish to send images, please forward high quality versions where possible, don't attempt to compress them to the point of illegibility, and please don't crop them to death. If you happen to have an original you wish to post to me using regular mail, let me know via email. If you already know it's fake, don't send it.

You have four choices when it comes to receiving updates — RSS, TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr — and unless my fingers crumble away, there will be at least one new post every weekday.

I predict you will also enjoy visiting Letterheady, another blog I run which is dedicated to showcasing interesting letterheads — it's like Letters of Note, but with less reading — and Lists of Note, which, predictably, features notable lists.

Please note that whenever I link to a book on Amazon (typically when highlighting the source of a particular letter) I use an affiliate link — this essentially means that, should you click that link and then purchase said book, I receive, from Amazon, a small percentage of the book's price.

If you have any more questions, please get in touch.


Shaun Usher