Valentine's Day - by Staff Intern Maureen Carlson

Valentine’s Day, as we know, is a day of love and romance. Lovers give each other flowers, candies, chocolates, and plan special dates. Over 200 million Valentine's cards are exchanged each year and that number doesn’t even account for all the cards exchanged in schools! In elementary schools across the country, children make special boxes for goodies and bring cards and candy with “Will you be my Valentine?” plastered all over them. But what started this grand tradition in the United States? Most valentine traditions we know of were brought overseas by European immigrants, which then began to spread. Lovers would often send valentines in the form of handwritten notes back and forth to each other during Revolutionary and Civil War times. The Kansas Museum of History has a few Civil War valentines included in their collection. These two images here, “Faithful in Death” and “My Love” were sent to Elizabeth Ehrhart from her fiance, Joseph Forrest, who was a soldier in the Civil War. While both of these valentines are quite sad, they portray the deep love and faithfulness that Joseph had for his sweet love, Elizabeth.

My Love - Courtesy of the Kansas History Museum

Faithful in Death - Courtesy of the Kansas History Museum








The Puzzle Purse

One type of valentine that was sent between loved ones was called the Puzzle Purse. It started in the 1700’s and became especially popular during the Victorian era. The Puzzle Purse is an origami style valentine where lovers could write special messages or include secret codes inside. Lovers could even place small gifts of love inside as well, such as a ring. If you click the following link, you can find out more about the history of this unique valentine as well as watch a video on how to make it yourself for someone that you love!

The Romantic History of the Puzzle Purse Valentine

letterThis letter and envelope with intricate detailing drawn around the outside is a valentine’s letter exchanged between sisters Lavinia and Emily Dickinson during the time of the California Gold Rush.

Mass production of actual Valentine’s Day cards, as opposed to handwritten letters, began after the end of the Victorian era in the early 1900’s, when exchanging love messages had picked up in popularity.


The thing that makes Valentine’s Day so great is that it is so versatile. Couples can make the holiday special for themselves depending on their own styles and interests. There isn’t just one event that everyone takes part in, such as trick-or-treating on Halloween. There are so many unique ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day that will make it special for you and your loved ones. So go out and kiss your loved ones and tell them you love them. Maybe share some chocolate or a delicious dinner. My favorite is listening to scary stories from old time radio stations by candlelight with my husband. You can even choose simply to do nothing at all. Just make the day your own. Also, remember that chocolates go on sale the day after Valentine’s Day *wink wink*. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!