Why Is February 14 Such a Busy Day in the Lulu?

February 14, 2014

For many people, Valentine’s Day is the time to exchange flowers and cards with loved ones; for those in mail services at Wellesley, it is one of the busiest times of the year.

According to Fran Adams, manager of Wellesley’s postal services, in February 2013 student mail services received 12,620 pieces of letter mail and 9,351 packages. For context: The student mail center received 191,087 letters and 54,747 packages over the entire year. This February promises a similar influx.

Mail for students comes to the student mail services window in the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center. There, Dave Caulfield oversees 11 student workers who sort and process the mail for Wellesley’s 2,300 students. Cupcakes, strawberries, chocolates, Godiva boxes, chocolate-covered Shari’s Berries, and Edible arrangements all make their way to the mailroom. February 13 was particularly busy this year, according to Caulfield, as local florists tried to deliver boxes, vases, and arrangements before Winter Storm Pax moved through. “Anyone receiving flowers is usually ecstatic,” says Caulfield. “They usually don’t know about it in advance.… You really do feel like Santa Claus.”

Letters and tokens to and from Wellesley women keep the post office busy. Meanwhile, historic letters of Wellesley women and others keep experts in Archives and Special Collections busy too, and unlike current mail, they can be viewed and read upon request. The most famous (and Valentine-y) of the College’s collection are the Browning love letters, now digitized. Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning carried on a secret affair in letters and meetings before eloping to Italy to escape Elizabeth’s tyrannical father. In Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth wrote about the experience of receiving one of Robert’s notes.

My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee tonight.

(Sonnet 28)

Wishing everyone nothing but good news in the mail, whether archive-worthy or not. And thanks to Wellesley’s mail services staff for all their hard work.