Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
Unopened mail from 17th century read at last
Scientists will at last read a collection of hundreds of never-opened letters from the seventeenth century and study them. The mail was in a trunk of a seventeenth-century postmaster from The Hague. This suitcase was last summer rediscovered in the archives of the The Hague Museum for Communication.
There were more than 2600 items of mail in it, including about 600 sealed letters. With modern scanning techniques such letters can be read without breaking the seals. The research is led by scientists from the Universities of Groningen and Leiden, and they get help from the universities of Oxford and Yale, among others.
By reading the letters, the researchers hope to learn more about everyday life in the seventeenth century. “The letters are from all walks of life,” said David van der Linden of the University of Groningen. “There’s mail by doctors and spies, but also by people who could barely write.”
The postmaster whose suitcase this was led postal transport between the southern Netherlands and France. According to Van der Linden the letters may tell much about the migration between the Netherlands and France in those years.