Priceless Old Documents Make It to the 21st Century
I've written in earlier posts about the letters written by William Clark to his brother that were not found until 1988 in a Louisville attic, and what an amazing treasure that sort of thing is.
This article appears in today's Washington Post about the discovery of trunks belonging to Robert E. Lee's daughter, Mary, in a bank vault in Virginia. The trunks were found in 2002!
Rob deButts, Robert E. Lee's great-great-grandson, immediately began examining the contents of the trunks, which include some of Lee's own letters, plus many other older materials. According to the WP article:
"The trunks were stuffed with Lee family papers -- a priceless cache of 4,000 letters, photographs and documents. DeButts carted them to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, which houses the world's largest collection of Lee papers. He spent a week there, sitting at a desk in the research library, reaching into Mary Custis Lee's trunks and picking out treasures and trash.
'He'd pull out a pile of her postcards and then he'd pull out something from the Colonial period and then he'd pull out letters from Robert E. Lee,' says Lee Shepard, the society's senior archivist. 'There was no rhyme or reason to it. She was the unofficial family historian, but she was also a bit of a pack rat.' "
Hail to pack rats! I always think about all the stuff I throw away when I read about these historical discoveries.
In one trunk was an envelope containing Lee's general's stars, cut from his uniform after the Civil War. The materials are now available to the public at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, which is planning a future exhibition. Click on "News & Events" on the VHS website to learn more about the new collection.