The Bancroft Survey Project began in February 2008. Funded by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundations, the survey project is intended to be a simultaneously broad and in-depth survey of all manuscript holdings of the Bancroft Library, which has been collecting for over a century. Four archivists were hired to scour the collections for a three year term, during which they will review the vast myriad of manuscript materials and use a survey instrument designed to gather data on collection scope, subject categories, and physical condition. The survey archivists are Marjorie Bryer, Amy Croft, Dana Miller, and Elia Van Lith, and they are also the authors of this blog.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Marx for Cranston

In 1968, Alan Cranston was elected to his first term as Senator from California. While surveying his papers (BANC MSS 88/214), we came across this humorous exchange between Groucho Marx and the new Senator.

November 7, 1968

Dear Senator: I was one of your strongest supporters and one who believed in your integrity - perhaps even manhood. I sent you a check for $25.00 so you could defeat that profane schoolteacher.

Inasmuch as you are now safely ensconced in office and Paulson has dropped out of the race, I think you would be doing a handsome deed by returning my $25.00. However, if you insist upon running again at some future date, just send me the money and I will hold it in escrow until I find out definitely what your plans are for the future. Incidentally, while you're in Washington, see if you can't incapacitate Senator Murphy.

Groucho Marx

P.S. This is a pretty lousy letter and, incidentally, the check I sent you wasn't too much either.

January 30, 1969

Dear Groucho:

I was relieved to learn that you believe in my integrity and my manhood, just as you will be relieved to learn that your $25.00 check, which I promptly cashed, was good.

So much for my integrity, my manhood and your twenty-five bucks.

Alan Cranston

--M. Bryer

Monday, June 8, 2009

Archival Toilet Paper

Here is a quickie, but it's an amusing one.

Today we were surveying the papers of the Crown Zellerbach Corporation, a very large paper company operating in the Pacific Northwest that was a parent company to 184 other paper companies.

The company even had its own Crown Zellerbach History Committee, recognizing the importance of its own history in a new executive policy order as early as 1954. They obviously took their charge seriously and saved a lot of materials.

We saw the records of dozens of paper, pulp, lumber, transportation, and mill companies, but were a bit surprised by what we found in carton 43, pictured here:

The finding aid described it as: "Roll of 'Spring Notch Toilet Tissue' recovered from a wall of the Sequoia Hotel, Fresno, California. ca.1920s"

Thus, we were looking at what is soon to be a 100 year old roll of toilet paper! And it's only Monday...

(See Crown Zellerbach Corporation records, BANC MSS 88/215 cp)

--D. Miller