“[F]or I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
— Thomas Jefferson
As noted in a recent post, we’re reappraising and reprocessing some of our older collections and updating their finding aids as we migrate them out of our institutional repository, The Knowledge Box, and into a new home. Because we have a lack of digital storage space right now, we’re giving the finding aids a temporary home in LibGuides before moving them again to a different repository, hopefully by the spring.
Because we’re rehoming the finding aids, it made sense to review them before posting them in LibGuides, and that meant making sure they conveyed the subject matter well, were clearly organized, and matched up with the physical collection to which they are attached. When they do not, we update the finding aid and in some cases reprocess the collection. One such case has been the Loretto Chappell correspondence to get rid of an excessive amount of folders. There were folders with as little as one piece of paper in them, which can weigh boxes down. The name of the collection is now the “Loretto Chappell correspondence, 1948-1987” because the new version of Describing Archives, a Content Standard (DACS) requires naming collections according to the largest component and adding dates. Though Loretto Chappell had many accomplishments, her collection is almost totally correspondence kept with an East German woman, Gertrude Mahler, which she donated to the History Department in 1987 as a record of life in the Communist-ruled part of Germany. The correspondence remains chronological, but it’s now easier to navigate the box. Finally, I moved the news articles and editorials about Chappell to one folder and made this event central in her biographical note in the finding aid. Previous versions of the finding aid had noted there were press clippings but hadn’t gone into great detail as to why they were attached to the collection, but after reading them, I thought they were due their time in the sun. You see, Loretto Chappell was very publicly accused of being a Communist in 1951 at the height of McCarthyism by our state legislature.
Loretto lived outside of what we’d consider expectations of a Southern lady of the 1950s (i.e., to get a MRS degree), though she definitely was a Southern lady. She was the eldest daughter of Georgia Normal & Industrial College’s first president, Dr. Joseph Harris Chappell, and she attended school here before studying social work at William & Mary College (now the College of William & Mary). Dr. Chappell was one of the sons of the Honorable Absalom H. Chappell, a former Congressman and state senator. He married Loretto Lamar, who came from a line of distinguished Southerners to include her brother, Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, the third President of the Republic of Texas. Loretto of our focus had a cousin of a similar age also named Loretto Chappell, both of whom were named for their grandmother. Cousin Loretto would become one of Columbus, Georgia’s most well-known librarians, and her collection at Columbus State University includes decades of correspondence, journals, and literary criticism. How I wish our collection had the richness and depth of that one, because our Loretto had quite the experience in 1951, and I would relish the chance to know her private thoughts on it! Continue reading “The Clever Miss Loretto Chappell, Champion of Georgia’s Poor Children and Accused “Red, from the Bottom of Your Feet to the Top of Your Head” (Or, Why We Reappraise and Reprocess)”