Sometimes historical content in newspapers takes a back seat to seemingly innocuous items found which, in time, resonate through our culture without the slightest impact on history. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address could be one example. And such was the case with an innocent letter written to THE SUN newspaper of New York City in 1897.
Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial in their Sept. 21, 1897 edition. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps. It has unquestionably become a part of Christmas culture over 110 years later.
At this special time of year we feel it appropriate to share not only the inquiring words of Virginia O’Hanlon but the timeless response just as it appeared in the newspaper in 1897.
May all of you allow the spirit of the Christmas season as beautifully expressed by Mr. Church find a special place in your heart and home this week.