When documenting unpublished letters, should the descriptions of the letters that are used in place of a title appear in quotation marks or italics? If I am citing more than one letter written by the same person, how should I distinguish the letters in my in-text citation?

For unpublished letters, provide a generic description in place of the title (see pp. 28–29 of the MLA Handbook); do not enclose the description in quotation marks or italicize it. For example:
Benton, Thomas Hart. Letter to Charles Fremont. 22 June 1847. John Charles Fremont Papers, Southwest Museum Library, Los Angeles. Manuscript.
---. Letter to Charles Fremont. 23 June 1847. John Charles Fremont Papers, Southwest Museum Library, Los Angeles. Manuscript.
In your in-text citation, distinguish letters written to the same recipient, as in the example above, with the first unique item of information—usually, the date:
(Letter [22 June])
(Letter [23 June])
If your works-cited list includes letters to two different recipients, for example:
Benton, Thomas Hart. Letter to Charles Fremont. 22 June 1847. John Charles Fremont Papers, Southwest Museum Library, Los Angeles. Manuscript.
---. Letter to Jessie Ann Benton Fremont. 24 June 1847. John Charles Fremont Papers, Southwest Museum Library, Los Angeles. Manuscript.
then you would need to include the name of the addressee in your in-text citation:
(Letter to Charles Fremont)
(Letter to Jessie Ann Benton Fremont)
In the above examples, it would be unnecessary to specify “Letter” and the addressee if this information is mentioned in the text.    

Published 7 July 2016

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