Ronald A. Smith, a well-known sport historian and emeritus professor at Penn State University, has published several books in sport history, including an edited diary belonging to the subject of these love letters. “Big-Time Football at Harvard, 1905: The Diary of Coach Bill Reid” chronicles the most important year in college football, when the crisis in brutality led to the creation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the legalization of the forward pass. Bill Reid had another side to his life, however—a passionate one in which he and his girlfriend, fiancé, and wife exchanged intimate love letters for well over a decade.
The passionate nature of Bill and Christine’s letters during the late Victorian period and early twentieth century are rare and distinguish them from other collections. Bill and Christine wrote intimate love letters when they first met, through their engagement and a lengthy separation while Christine took an eight-month voyage with her parents to Europe, and especially after their marriage and the birth of their first three children. The explicit love letters of upper-middle and upper class individuals are an exceptional find, and they broach issues between couples that are almost universal, often appearing timeless. The love letters of Bill and Christine not only illuminate aspects of life in the early twentieth century, but also they make us reflect on our own lives.