The letters, which were written between fall 1982 and spring 1984, are addressed to his former girlfriend, Alexandra McNear. But, according to associate professor of political science Andra Gillespie, they aren't "particularly personal." Rather, they shed light on Obama's fascinating professional and political evolution and trajectory.
"You’re coming in at these letters at a point in President Obama’s and Alex McNear’s relationship where you can see the arc of the breakup that’s going to happen. There’s no breakup letter per se, but you can see there are a couple of post-breakup letters," Gillespie explained.
"What we learn about is a young man who is yet to become or even dream about becoming President Obama," library director Rosemary Magee told The New York Times. "It’s a story of a journey over a couple of years about a sense of self-understanding, self-definition and his understanding of himself and place in the world."
"Salaries in the community organizations are too low to survive on right now," Obama wrote in 1983. "So I hope to work in some more conventional capacity for a year, allowing me to store up enough nuts to pursue those interests next."
In another letter from 1983, Obama wrote about his time in Indonesia where he was visiting his mother and sister. "I can’t speak the language well anymore," he wrote. "I’m treated with a mixture of puzzlement, deference and scorn because I’m American, my money and my plane ticket back to the U.S. overriding my blackness. I see old dim roads, rickety homes winding back towards the fields, old routes of mine, routes I no longer have access to."
During his time working at the Business International Corporation in New York in 1984, Obama mused about his future: "My ideas aren’t as crystallized as they were while in school, but they have an immediacy and weight that may be more useful if and when I’m less observer and more participant," he wrote.
I'd say that particular introspection turned out to be quite prophetic.