eighteenth-century letter days

I have been searching my notes in vain for reference to a practice I remember reading about.

I can remember learning that in the eighteenth century Anglo-American world, members of a religious community would gather to listen to letters from abroad (concerning spiritual matters) being read out loud.

Am I imagining this, or is this a well-known practice that somehow slipped below the radar of my note-taking habits?

Cross posted at C18-L

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