FULLBAC, 1968-1969 - CARLI Digital Collections Featured Image

From Black Empowerment Collection (Meadville Lombard Theological School) in CARLI Digital Collections.

Usually the best, brightest, most dazzling items from archives and special collections are selected for digitization--or so it seems to me. Perhaps it's more common than I realize, working outside those specialized areas, but in my browsings of digital collections I don't recall ever noticing such a conspicuously damaged item before.

It's not only that this item was saved, preserved, and digitized that intrigues me, but the burned, partly-destroyed envelope is stamped "damaged in handling in the postal service." How common is it for mail to catch fire?

To put a few pieces of the puzzle together, the featured envelope contained a short typed note on letterhead describing the purpose of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Black Affairs Council in a half-dozen points. It was sent from the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus national headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, in June 1968, addressed to an attorney named Sam Beecher in Terre Haute, Indiana. (And then spontaneously burst into flames while in postal transit?)

Written by Ellen Corrigan, Associate Professor of Library Services, Cataloging Services, Booth Library, Eastern Illinois University

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