Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Our Lady of the Archives

After reading The Genealogue's post about Googling for nude genealogists, and his post was number one), I clicked on the link for a Dick Eastman column from 2002 which mentioned "Our Lady of the Archives." The actual article is here, and it is hilarious.

What did a prim and proper genealogist find in a Smith County, Tennessee deed book at a very quiet library?

What she found there was a striking black-and-white photograph. That in itself would have been startling enough, because photography was rare during the era of those deeds. It was more surprising, though, because it was a photograph of a conspicuously endowed woman standing on a beach, leaning, uncomfortably it seems to me, against a large piece of driftwood. It's the sort of pose you never see anyone make for any practical purpose: she's looking to the side, with her arm stretched behind her head. She has her right leg raised, her knee pointing out to sea.

She wears makeup and a brunette hairdo that you'd tend to associate with the first term of the Truman administration, if not with Bess herself. And she's completely naked.

Below the picture is a note, in less-careful handwriting than that of the Smith County deeds. Dated "3rd Mar. 1828," it reads "Luke. Iffen you don't quit chasing Injun wimmen + Bear huntin, I'm gwine run offen wif DAVY CROCKETT... Jest LOOK At Whut youins will Bee Missing. LUV, Nancy Lou."

Hee hee. The stir that must have caused. Of course, I would have whooped and done a happy dance, laughing all the while - probably woulda got kicked out of the library forever.

Inquiring minds want to know - who was the Lady of the Archives? Who stuck her in there on a roll of boring microfilm, and when? Did she go to the NGS conference that year?

Thanks to Chris Dunham for the link - made my evening (but I was disappointed they didn't show the picture).

No comments: