I have been working in the Berry College archives for three years, so I have, from time to time, been in contact with the Martha Berry correspondence. I always find it thrilling to hold in my hands (or gloves) a letter written by one of Martha Berry’s more renowned friends; President Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie. Dealing with the correspondence more consistently through the MBDA project, I have also been surprised by many how similarities and connections to my own life I find reflected in the letters.
For instance, this semester my Creative Non-Fiction class was assigned to read a memoir (Harry Crews, A Childhood: The Biography of Place) by a man who was raised during the 1930’s in Bacon County which is in Southern Georgia. The beginning of the memoir includes a great deal of historical background on Bacon County, and I learned that the county was formed in 1914 and named for Senator Augustus Octavious Bacon. The morning after I read this, I was at work scanning for the project when the signature “Augustus O. Bacon,” a hard name to miss, caught my eye at the bottom of a letter. It was a rather short letter commending Martha Berry for the work she was doing to help improve the state of Georgia, but I discovered it was from the very same Augustus Bacon, and that in 1928 he was still serving on the state Senate. I was so excited to stumble upon the letter, and I could not wait to go to class and share the discovery with my professor. Discoveries like these are part of the reason why I find working with the MBDA Project so intriguing, and they provide a reminder to just how vast a range of time, place and experience the correspondence contains.