Unexpected excitement

Two weeks ago, I had to move the LeConte material from the table (where I can usually spread out nicely) to make room for the collection a donor brought in that morning. The materials were family papers that had been sitting in an attic. I have a lousy sense of smell, but even I could perceive the mustiness.

I had ample opportunity to experience eau de must while helping the Manuscripts Librarian with the first round of processing. (This stuff clearly made his day, too.) It was mostly sorting by year, some by subject and creator. The materials (mostly correspondence, some business records, and legal writings) date as far back as the 1730s.

There is a lot from one particular writer. He was somewhat anal, with a tendency to label correspondence (“my father’s letter” and such, with dates), and whoever originally sorted the material grouped much of it by date. The writer traveled a fair bit in his capacity as a judge and wrote many letters to his wife. “Most unalterably yours” is a closing which sticks in my head. There’s other family business, names that will ping on the cross-references, deeds and wills and some accounts. There’s also a nice stack of legal opinions on slavery, and a fun deposition in a case of a barn burning. (We should play CSI: APS and decide whether Phoebe really did it or was being framed.)

So it was a very neat day for me. On the rare occasion when I type “Squee!” I typically do so ironically; but I can now express the sentiment sincerely.

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