The correspondence used for this site can be divided into two categories. Correspondence in the first category is of an official nature, such as the letters and petitions sent to various authorities regarding the care of the Frozen Man and Jerome. This correspondence is not of a confidential nature, since it was used for the maintenance of records rather than personal ends. The letters were preserved and handwritten copies kept for the records. The latter are listed under the headings “Court Documents” and “Government Documents”. Letters in the second category, those we have gathered under the heading “Letters”, are of a personal nature. The authors of such letters did not write them with the intention that they should be read by the public, and quite probably never imagined that their correspondence would be preserved in the collections of the Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia. Although they were written in different periods, these personal letters generally served the same purpose: to share and ask for news. In the case of the letters collected here, they denote a search for information about Jerome. Provincial archives generally preserve the personal letters of influential people like Prime Ministers or other important figures (such as Judge A.W. Savary); those of lesser-known people are less often preserved systematically. Sometimes, however, certain individuals or members of their families donate personal letters to libraries or archives.

Personal correspondence represents a particularly useful type of source in social history. Contrary to official documents, these letters by “ordinary people” constitute a window onto the nature of society, onto friendships, family relations and love relationships during a bygone era. A letter can reveal a great deal of information about its author. The presence of numerous spelling errors, for example, may be an indicator of low schooling. At times, the historian’s work is made more difficult when letters are neither dated nor signed, or when a person’s writing is difficult to decipher. As well, many letters are written recto-verso on thin, fragile paper. These documents, often folded, often blotched with ink, have suffered the effects of time and can be very difficult to read. As with every kind of source, historians have to be prudent in analyzing and interpreting these letters. Their authors may have forgotten certain details, exaggerated others, or flat out lied.