Friday, March 25, 2016

Envelope of Death

Postcard addressed to William M. ChaseMost of the time we work with old things here in Rauner. Sometimes it can get a little eerie, because the people who made so many of our books and documents are no longer with us, and, as one astute archivist once said, "their papers really are their last remains." We are pretty hardened to it, but the tales of woe and death sometimes get to us.

Postcard reporting death of "Clasmate Livingston"This week we opened up an envelope stuffed with postcards from the early 1900s. All of the cards were written to William M. Chase, Class of 1858 and College Trustee, from Samuel C. Beale, Secretary to the Class of 1858. Each card simply records the death of another classmate. Most are terse:
Grafton 30 Sept 1911
Classmate Livingston died at Peacham, Vt in Aug 1911.
Sam'l C Beane
Classmate Hayes. B.S. died Sept 28 1915 at his summer home in Madbury, N.H.
S. C. Beane
Sec 1858
A few show a little more emotion:
Our beloved classmate Chadwick died at his home Sat 11 of pneumonia. Funeral tomorrow, Tuesday. I have been asked to take part in the services.
Sam'l C. Beane
Grafton 13 March 1911
The matter-of-fact reportage of these and the sheer number is profoundly odd. Reported by one classmate, and saved as a packet of death by another, as each measured their days.

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