How many novels contain a scene like this: a reader opens an old book and finds stuck between its pages a document that illuminates an obscure past? In reality, most of what we find tucked into old books are grocery lists, gum wrappers, scraps of paper used for bookmarks, and other detritus of everyday life. The most memorable item that I’ve ever found was a daisy chain of clover.
Jenny Townes, a graduate student who works in the North Carolina Collection, recently came across a much more important find. While she was processing a collection of books once owned by the late Archie K. Davis, Jenny removed a large number of envelopes and receipts from a copy of The Revised Statutes of the State of North Carolina, Passed by the General Assembly at the Session of 1836-7. One of the envelopes contained a letter to Mrs. Jeannette Conrad from a woman who identified herself as “a former servant.” The letter-writer, Judy Coonnard, asked Mrs. Conrad’s help in locating her children. What Jenny had found was a letter documenting the efforts of one former slave to reunite with her children.
We welcome any information that you might have on the people whose names appear in this letter.