This is my last week at the CCEPS. The fellowship went so fast and it is hard to believe today is my last day. I wanted to thank you everyone for helping me on the way and making this such a great experience! I had the privilege to start processing John Seymour’s papers and I cannot wait to see the final outcome of this project once it is all finished. While I was working on Mr. Seymour’s correspondence I found many of his Christmas cards and greetings. I hope your Christmas is just like on the card below – Merry, Happy, and Bright! Happy 2019! Hope to see you around next year!
This week our CCEPS team had our culminating presentations. It was really interesting to learn about what other students have been working on during this semester. Marcus Liu, talked about processing the Yao Family papers and Clark Noone, about the Irving Wallace papers, and I was sharing my experience with processing the John Laurence Seymour papers. Thank you everyone for coming, we had a nice audience of people. Looking back on this fellowship, I am very thankful I had this opportunity to experience something new, try something I have never done before and rediscover the library and its special collection. Thank you everyone for helping me on the way and for your support. Next week will be my last as the CCEPS Fellow. It went so fast and it is hard to believe this semester is almost over.
After working with the correspondence of Mr. John Seymour for the last month and a half, I was sure that all the letters have been organized and placed in folders. Well… not completely. Today, I discovered that there are more letters that were hidden between other materials in two other boxes. This is the fun part of working with primary sources that you never know what else will you find. So back to unfolding letters, greetings cards, and other notes. This Christmas card/letter below actually reminded me to send my own soon.
As the date for our final presentation is set for Dec.12th, I have been thinking this week about what I am going to present. Actually there is quite a lot to talk about. Not only about the materials and information regarding Mr. John Seymour, but about the whole archival processing which is quite new to me. First, I learned that working with primary sources and processing the materials requires patience and a good organization plan. For the last month I have been organizing Mr. Seymour’s correspondence. I have unfolded, removed from envelops, placed in a folded acid free paper, and put in appropriate folders more then 1,000 letters! I still need to create a list of all the folders. It took some time, but it feels good that one of the series is almost completed.
The day before Thanksgiving is rather quiet at CCEPS and the Honnold Library. Most staff and students most likely travel already or prepare the food. I’m not traveling so I’m here enjoying the, as I would call, “easy finding parking day” on campus.
While looking through some stack of Mr. Seymour’s letters I found this small packet diary from 1975. That year Thanksgiving came on November 27th, so five days later than this year. There is no note on that day and I do not know where or with whom Mr. Seymour spent the day, but he must be somewhere since the next day he wrote “leave for home” and than “bus to C.C.” Well, safe travel everyone and have a great Thanksgiving day!
The value of one dollar has really changed since the 1970-s. In 1973, Mr. John Seymour spent $1.00 to pay for a year of subscription to the “FAD” magazine associated with the LDS Church – Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). What is even more interesting is that a month later the magazine stopped circulating and the editor credited him with $0.70. This is financial particularity! Is there is anything today we could buy for 70 cents?
John Seymour’s papers include not only letters but also interesting postcards from all around the world. Some of the postcards were sent to Mr. Seymour’s from his students. The students were so excited to share what they saw with their professor. How unique is to have this kind of relation between students and their teacher. It shows appreciation of the art and aesthetics that only the teacher would understand as they wrote: ..”Today we went to St. Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel! They were unbelievable! It is a feeling and experience we will never forget! There is just so much to see and experience. It’s just marvelous! […] We are also going to the Catacombs tomorrow…”
Art appreciation… one of the unique skills that all students should possess…The postcard shows the masterwork of Michelangelo – La Pieta.
If someone “wears many hats,” they have different roles or tasks to perform. John Laurence Seymour has written many chamber music selections and has composed numerous operas, for example Ramona and In the Pasha’s Garden. The last one was performed at the Metropolitan Opera stage. However, his B.A., M.A, and even Ph.D., degrees were not related at all to music. He actually studied Russian and received his doctorate degree in English. I find this interesting when people have many interests and are successful in different fields. Although, he studied violin and has done some critical studies in opera abroad, still, I think writing operas outside of daily work is quite impressive. Here is Mr. Seymour in “one of his hats.”
This week I came back from a trip to my home country in Europe and now I’m back on track with Mr. Seymour’s papers. Coincidentally or not, I’m unfolding Mr. Seymour’s travel letters from Europe. This is actually a physical process which I really like. I remove each letter from its envelope, make it flat and put chronologically in appropriate folders. He wrote so many letters during his trips to France, Italy, and England. I am very impressed that he had the time to do that. I was so busy back home and I cannot even imagine writing a paper letter there. Today we just take pictures and share them on social media. It was not the case from Mr. Seymour’s time. Mr. Seymour wrote letters every couple of days, usually four or five pages long. While opening one letter from London, a dry, flat flower slipped out. How sweet, Mrs. Seymour sent it from England in 1928 and it survived in that envelope for 90 years!
This week I have been working on the processing plan of the John Laurence Seymour Papers. I’m trying to find the best way to organize the amount of materials so it will be user friendly to researchers in the future. There are 66 diaries and many personal letters from family members which I am sure might be of a special interest to someone. There is one interesting thing about the letters to Mr. Seymour’s Mother… He never addresses her “Mother” or “Mom,” instead he calls her Rosie, a nickname for Rose. He picked up this name as a child and as he described “the family thought the matter amusing; and so the habit grew and he clung to it uncritically over the years.” Later, as a student of Russian, he translated the name into its Russian equivalent, Rozechka, and it stayed like that. I think this personal detail shows the close mother-son relationship unique to the Seymour’s family. The letters below are from Paris and Milan, one addressed to Rosie, the other to Rozechka – the dearest Mom.