For 265 years, 104 letters written to French sailors sat on a shelf in a government building in the U.K. They were never opened. They have been read for the first time in two and a half centuries. The letters were on a French warship captured by the British Navy in 1758. The letters were taken to London, so the sailors on the ship did not have time to open and read their mail. The letters were put in storage and forgotten about. They gathered dust in an archive. A researcher from Cambridge University said many of the letters were love letters.
A group of researchers read and studied the letters. The lead researcher said the messages gave a rare and unique look back into history. The writers were rich and poor. They were fiancés, parents, siblings and wives. The writing showed how different literacy was among people in France. A researcher said the letters were important. He said they showed how we all cope with challenges like pandemics and wars. He said the letters were very similar to what people write about today. They were about staying in touch, caring for people, and keeping passion alive.