Rare Books and Manuscripts ‘A-Ha’ Moments: Shearer Family Papers

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division has made it a priority to process and create finding aids in order to promote access to and preserve our manuscript collections. In doing so, it’s not uncommon we find connections between individuals, their families and events throughout the years. We often comment, “It’s such a small world!”

We had an “a-ha” moment regarding a collection of Shearer family papers and several folders of (what we thought were unrelated) architectural drawings, watercolors and still-life sketches created by William A. Shearer. After further research, we discovered a connection between the family papers and Shearer himself.

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Francis Shearer (William A. Shearer’s son) donated the collection of his family’s papers to the State Library in 1976. If we did not have this wonderful collection of correspondence and photographs, we would have never fully understood the rich life of William A. Shearer, including his service in World War I and his involvement with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair held in San Francisco.

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Historical institutions, such as the State Library, are key to preserving history and you can help us with this mission. Far too often historical treasures are mistaken for trash and thrown out, or left to sit in hot attics and damp garages. The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division will preserve and provide access to these items for future generations.

This blog post was written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Supervisor, Bethany Fiechter. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at (317) 232-3671 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.