Friday, September 11, 2009

Saving the Best for Last

It’s funny how collections have little surprises. The Peterson Collection has certainly had quite a few. There were photographs of the Washington office, candid letters from Richard B. Russell while he was still a young man in the State Legislature, and painted campaign banners from the 1930s; funny little drawings by the artist Tasev, a piece of metal from a Japanese bomber, and so many more – many of which I’ve chronicled here on the blog. And yet, it was on my last day of processing that I found something even less expected. A folder marked “McAllister data and notes on effort to purchase Calhoun land” yielded some treasures dating from 1814 and 1951. It contained tax receipts and family documents, including a legal agreement between C. C. McAlister and his former slaves in September of 1865.

Having worked with a set of papers for so long, I feel attached to the Peterson collection. For some reason, this find is a little more precious to me than the others, maybe because it was the last “find” I made. Or maybe because of the connection these documents reveal between Peterson, his ancestors, and the land on which they lived. I spent so much time looking at material dealing with world affairs on such a grand scale that this local memory was special. In any case, it was a wonderful way to end processing.

Although this marks the end of my discoveries, i'll keep you all informed about when the Peterson collection opens for research -- and any other developments that come along! Thanks for keeping up with my "Progress on Peterson" -- hopefully i'll be back soon to document more adventures here at the Russell Library.

P.S. Also in the papers was a little recipe for making wine. Enjoy!

Post by Renna Tuten, Project Archivist, Russell Library

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