From the Publicity Books: Honoring Ruth Lawrence...I
Files in a cabinet

At first glance, the University Gallery's Publicity Books appear to be mere scrapbooks filled with mementos of early exhibitions, that were found filed away on a bookshelf somewhere in the back of someone's office. However, tucked unassumingly into a Publicity Book dated 1953-1954, rests a short but impressive letter that challenges that idea.

The letter was sent to University Gallery director Ruth Lawrence from then senator and future Vice President of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey shortly after his first unsuccessful run for president. Humphrey cared enough to write to Lawrence after coming across an article featuring Lawrence in the daily newspaper.  The article states:

It's clear from Humphrey's letter, that included the clipping, that the gallery had fulfilled Lawrence's instructional mission in meaningful, lasting ways.

A letter on old yellowed paper
An old news clipping

I don't know about you, but if I received a letter out of the blue from one of our senators commending me for a job well done, I would certainly be flattered and I might frame or otherwise show off the letter. From the inclusion of such a glowing letter from a prominent local and national figure in the Publicity Book, one gets the feeling that the books weren't tucked away in the back of an office but perhaps on display to be perused by students and visitors to the gallery or the Fine Arts Room.

In an archival setting, correspondence of all types are often grouped together within a collection. However, original order is a fundamental principle of archives because it can help define relationships. The Humphrey letter, while unusual for its placement in a Publicity Book, wasn't misfiled but rather infers that these books were publicly used. Perhaps this letter inside the Publicity Book was almost as visible as a frame on the wall, and so a fitting way to honor Ruth Lawrence and her mission with the gallery.