Library Helped Finger Another 'Would-Be Assassin' Named Booth

Letter from Junius Brutus Booth to Andrew JacksonYou know how some of the best jobs are the ones where you learn something new every day? I definitely have one of those.

I was watching a new episode of History Detectives last night on PBS (one of the few shows to which I am hopelessly addicted). Tukufu Zuberi did a segment about a letter purportedly written by the father of John Wilkes Booth to President Andrew Jackson threatening to assassinate Old Hickory.

The piece turned up some interesting tidbits supporting the notion that at least thoughts of assassination ran in the Booth family, such as what appears to be a contemporaneous apology for the letter from Booth the elder to Jackson in a Philadelphia newspaper.

The Library of Congress in the past had done some pretty exhaustive work of which I was unaware that signals our letter’s authenticity. Quoting Barbara Bair of the Library’s Manuscript Division:

[A]ccording to research by an LC conservator who specializes in manuscripts [Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Haude], and who has examined the letter, the paper used in the Junius Booth to Andrew Jackson letter of July 4, 1835, as evidenced by the watermarks (dove, and A KELTY), was that of the paper maker Anthony Kelty. He operated a paper mill from 1830-1840 on Buck Run, near Coatesville in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. [The letter was dated July 4, 1835, and addressed from Philadelphia.]

Read more »

For Posterity … and for You, Too

The Library of Congress has released the 25 recordings selected this year to be preserved for all time as part of the National Recording Registry. They range from the old and classical (violinist Jascha Heifetz’ recordings for Victor Records early in the last century) to more recent rock (The Who, singing “My Generation”) and from […]

How We 'May' Protect Our Cultural Treasures

“May Day!” is a well-known distress call.  But “MayDay” is also a project to help prevent distress of another kind: Archives, libraries, museums and historic preservation organizations have set aside May 1 to participate in MayDay, an initiative to protect cultural heritage from disasters. For our part, the Library last year contributed a “mutual assistance” […]