“Book of letters”

May 28, 2014 · Collections ·

One of my tasks in getting the Oliver Wolcott papers digitized and online is quality control—looking at each image to make sure it is clear and legible. I am up to box 18 (of 59!). When I got to the volumes of draft letters in box 16, I noticed the “docketing” on the reverse. It gave me some insight into how his office was run. Wolcott wrote his own letters, but then secretaries took those, copied them, and recorded each letter in a register of sorts. Then that information was written on the back of the page, as can be seen in this example. This letter was written to the Secretary of State and recorded in “Book of Letters No. 3 to Executive Officers.”

A check of the National Archives indicates that for the Department of the Treasury, there is an entire series of “Letters Sent”, including indexes and registers that are organized by the recipient—President, Cabinet Officers, Congress, Judiciary, etc. The indexes cover the years Wolcott was in office, but evidently registers from those years did not survive. Hmm, sounds like at some point I should make the trip to Washington to see these registers and indexes in person. I love learning new things!

Digitizing the Wolcott papers is being funded in part by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

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