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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

March 30, 2007

Secrets made public, anonymously

by Samantha Beres

It started as a community art project. In 2004, Frank Warren went to Metro stations in the Washington, D.C., area and handed out blank postcards to strangers. He asked each person to decorate a card, share an untold (true) secret and send it to him, anonymously.

Postcards mailed to him became part of a local Washington art exhibit, but the secret-on-a-postcard concept took on a life of its own. Even after Warren stopped handing out blank postcards, hundreds poured in from all over. Then thousands. Today, the count is well over 100,000.

postsecret postcard

Warren will give a lecture, "PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives," at 8 p.m. April 5 in the Memorial Union Great Hall. He will share new postcards that have never been seen before.

Since that first project, Warren has created traveling art tours. He has published three books, PostSecret (2005), My Secret (2006), and The Secret Lives of Men and Women (2007), with some proceeds going to 1-800-SUICIDE, a national suicide hotline where Warren has volunteered.

Warren's Web site,, which receives millions of visitors each month, is what the project has evolved into. Here, he posts new secrets every Sunday.

Viewing the postcards gives a sense of the project's therapeutic nature. One is a picture of a cat that says "You should have taken the cat, too - she won't forgive me for kicking you out." Another is a hand-drawn picture of a dinosaurish-looking monster sitting at a set dinner table. It reads, "I once left a 50 percent tip because the server treated my partner and I like we were human." The postcards are usually decorated, mini art pieces with short secrets that run the gamut and include hilarious, sexual, disturbing and sad admissions.

Warren's Web site also lists a posting from one person who thanks Warren for his books and for listing the suicide hotline number in them. Reading the book helped her feel less alone in the world, and calling the number helped save her life, she wrote.

In anticipation of Warren's visit, ISU started a local PostSecret project. Submissions are on display on the ground floor of the Memorial Union. Secrets include regrets, hopes, funny experiences, unseen acts of kindness, fantasies, fears, betrayals, erotic desires and confessions.

More submissions from ISU's PostSecret project will be on display during Warren's lecture.

To share your secret:

  • Pick up a blank postcard, available in the Student Activities Center and a few other MU locations, or create your own (4x6 inches).
  • Share your secret. Reveal anything, as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone.
  • Mail your postcard to Student Activities Center, East Student Office Space, MU, Ames 50011.
postsecret postcard

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives

Frank Warren

April 5

8 p.m.