Our Love Letter Archive is the only archive of its kind in Germany. It aims to preserve a unique collection of private, authentic love letters as a valuable testimony of love and everyday life – a source of knowledge for which no official state collection mandate exists to date.
Our archive documents in an impressive way how private writing culture has changed over time. Precisely because love letters were and are written in various circles of society, they offer unique insights into writing norms and everyday life of not only individuals but entire milieus, age groups, and genders.
History and development of the Love Letter Archive
Our archive was founded by linguistics professor Dr. Eva L. Wyss, who first came in contact with love letters as part of her research. At the time, she had quickly realized that only love letters of great literary figures had been a subject of research, whereas research on private love letters was virtually non-existent in linguistics.
In 1997, while still living in Zurich, Eva Wyss placed an ad in local newspapers asking people to send in love letters. Her aim was to scientifically analyze real and authentic letters written by regular citizens and thus to close the research gap that had existed until then. Eva Wyss received an overwhelming response on her ad and over 2500 love letters were donated within half a year. This way, in 1998, Projekt Liebesbriefarchiv (Love Letter Archive Project) took off with the help of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) who supported the project from 1999 to 2004. The Zurich Love Letter Archive (ZLA) was born.
After her transfer to the University of Koblenz-Landau in 2013, Eva Wyss also moved the Love Letter Archive and with it a collection of about 6000 letters to the university library in Koblenz. In 2014, together with TU professor Dr. Andrea Rapp, an initiative to further professionalize and institutionalize the project began: since 2015, great efforts have been made to digitize and index the constantly growing collection of the Love Letter Archive. This effort is made possible by our team in cooperation with students, as part of university courses and through the publication of numerous scientific papers and theses.
As part of our citizen science project “Gruß & Kuss – Briefe digital. Citizens receive love letters”, we cordially invite all interested citizens to participate in our research and the digitization of our archive.
To date, all original letters are being archived permanently in the library of the University of Koblenz, Library, while the digital archive is being expanded in cooperation with the Darmstadt University and State Library (ULB).
We are currently still accepting donations of letters. Thus, the Love Letter Archive continues to grow and currently contains approximately 25,000 love letters from 52 countries and four centuries – with our oldest letter dating back to 1715 and our most recent to 2021 (as of August 2022).
Interested in donating your love letters to our archive? Find out more here: