Prior to the telegraph and telephone the primary source of communication between people other than direct conversation was the 'letter'. People wrote letters the way you and I would have a conversation over the phone. Obviously the content ranged from the simple 'hi, hello how are you to the most formal of documents. Although literacy rates continued to rise throughout the 19th century, those who could not read or write simply asked someone in their family or community to assist them. What I always found interesting as an historian is how letter writing was almost an art. While the beauty of the handwriting enhanced even the dullest of content, the intensity with which personal letters were written conveyed the importance people put upon the letter.
Although I enjoy and benefit from all the advances in communciation technology, on some level they do diminish the intimacy that letter writing holds, and for that reason I hope society never abandons the beauty and value of writing a letter in favor of the language called 'texting'.
F.Y.I. Anyone interested in reading the beauty of a letter written by an individual without any formal education, google the following...Letter written by Sullivan Ballou, 1st Battle of Bull Run, 1861.