Michelle Ann Kratts

Is there a Santa Claus?

In Christmas on December 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Virginia's letterFrancisPharcellusChurchVIRGINIA1-popup155px-Yes,Virginia,ThereIsASantaClausClipping

The original editorial appeared in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897. Laura Virginia O’Hanlon was the daughter of a coroner’s assistant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She was only eight years old when she asked her father if Santa really did exist. He sent her query on to The Sun and the rest is history.

It was Francis P. Church, an editor at The Sun, that took on the little girl’s question. He had been a war correspondent during the Civil War and it is said that his work during that bloody conflict left him a bit sentimental. His heartfelt response to young Virginia became the most reprinted editorial of the English language.

Above is the original copy of Virginia’s letter (courtesy PBS). When Virginia’s great granddaughter brought the scrapbook with the letter written in Virginia’s own hand to Antiques Roadshow, it was said that it’s value was in the $20-30,000 range.

One little girl’s quest for the truth and one writer’s imaginative response–telling us all that there IS magic in this world–has become a cornerstone of American history and culture. Because in the end we all want to believe.

This is December 24, 1907, Niagara Falls Gazette.

Virginia

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