TSLAC is participating in the Society of American Archivists’ “I Found It in the Archives!” contest. The event offers a chance for visitors and researchers to share stories about the treasures they’ve discovered at TSLAC, and helps promote archival research.
I find all kinds of interesting things in the archives, or, rather, those things find me when they come to the conservation lab. Two finds from this week represent the breadth of the historical materials housed in archival collections.
Sometimes archival holdings put a fine point on major events in history, such as this ticket to the presidential welcome dinner in Austin November 22, 1963. President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson, and their wives were to attend; Kennedy was shot in Dallas earlier that day. This ticket, along with an invitation and program for the event, are part of a larger, donated collection of newspapers and magazines documenting the Kennedy assassination. The materials have come to the lab for assessment of whether they should be removed from their library bindings.
Though big finds are impressive, sometimes the small finds are the ones that really humanize the historical record. Probably my favorite find from this week is the following letter from the 1920s, written from a mother to a son, which reminds us that some facets of family life remain unchanged throughout the years. Note how the author pulls no punches from the letter’s first sentence. This letter is part of a collection in the lab for basic cleaning, flattening, and mending to stabilize the correspondence for researcher use.
Archives offer unique, unpublished treasures that can be startling in their immediacy, especially as people grow accustomed to learning and interacting onscreen and online. Learn more about TSLAC’s “I Found It in the Archives!” contest on our website, and plan an archives visit soon!