Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Stay Tuned...

The past few weeks at work on the Papers of the War Department, I've been providing metadata for the Samuel Hodgdon letterbook from 1798-1800. I've sort of stumbled upon a mystery. Apparently, Colonel Ebenezer Stevens is a little bit upset about his salary. I only read Hodgdon's letters out to various people, but from what I've read, I've pieced together the idea that Stevens has requested a higher salary, commensurate with his abilities and his responsibilities, or he elects to retire.

Hodgdon's letters follow all sorts of things--public store deliveries to Fort Detroit, the barracks in Newport, Rhode Island, and damaged cartouche boxes and gun stocks. He is confident in Stevens's fine work and in the system to reward merit and to honor our fledgling nation's patriots. As of 16 August 1799, the matter still isn't resolved. But stay tuned... speaking from 2009, I know it all works out somehow.
A long time ago, in a place far, far away, I worked as a research assistant. At one point, early in my Mormon women's history career, I was asked to track down correspondence between Susa Young Gates, pictured above, and Emmeline B. Wells, pictured below. Living in New York City at the time, Susa was appointed the Utah representative to the National Council of Women. She was then asked to represent the American National Council of Women by president May Wright Sewall at the International Council of Women conference in Denmark. The letters I read reported her participation to Emmeline Wells in Salt Lake City, who waited with baited breath for her reports to the homeland.

Susa wanted so badly to do well, to play with the big dogs, to represent the Relief Society and to make important international connections. Unfortunately, many of the women there looked down upon her for her religious affiliation, and this was the cause of a lot of unhappy words and mixed emotions as Susa sorted out her feelings and sought for approval and support from Emmeline.

It was a beautiful relationship. Even more insightful, though, was my 2001 perspective. I knew it all worked out, simply because I knew about Susa's later service and participation and prominence. And yet each page of each letter that I wrote spelled out the details, the progress, the concerns of the present. I followed their unfolding, drawn to her fears and concerns. And I reveled in Emmeline's constant support and unwavering faith.

I don't know yet what happens to Ebenezer Stevens, if he gets his raise or not. And I don't know what will unfold in my own life. But I am sure staying tuned. It's bound to make a good story!

1 comment:

Laurel said...

oh, i love this.

You know that my secret hope is that you will be the voice that finally brings all this history to life...stories need to be told and YOU, my dear, are the storyteller.