As I mentioned the other day I’ve recently spent some time looking for something in the library records.(Didn’t find it.) Anyway, I went all the way back to the old Rice Institute Library collection, which in reality is mostly a collection of Alice Dean‘s papers. She was a marvel, by the way, thoughtful, efficient, and usually all business. Once in a while, though, something else peeks out. For example, Miss Dean also handled personal book purchases for the staff, who didn’t otherwise have access to books in the way we take for granted today. This included buying on her own account. I was fascinated to see what she bought for herself–math books and more surprisingly, shelves and shelves worth of children’s literature.
She also occasionally wrote to someone in a voice that was not her official voice at all. This chatty letter to David Potter, written in the fall of 1942, was one of those unusual ones. I’ve written about Potter before, when I came across a picture of him in Maxwell O. Reade‘s scrapbook:
Potter spent four years as a faculty fellow at Rice, finishing up his Yale doctoral dissertation here before going on to an extremely distinguished career as an historian of the American South. That dissertation was published in 1942 as Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis and it is the subject of the letter:
My first reaction (of course) was to go check whether the book was still on our shelves. I tracked down a copy off site in the Library Service Center and waited impatiently for it to arrive. When it did, victory was mine:
As long as I’d gone to the trouble to get it, I figured I should read it. It’s good.
Bonus: Getting ready for spring.
Note: My daughter is getting married Saturday (finally!) so I’m checking out for the rest of the week and next week too for that matter. See you back here on the 25th.