Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version

Fall 2003

Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 25, Number 3, Fall 2003. ISSN 0196-7134

Reprinted from 1987.


2003 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


Recently the John Marshall Papers project accessioned a series of nine autograph letters signed from the chief justice to Bushrod Washington, written between 1814 and 1821. Let me state at the outset that the letters disclose no secret loves, no shady financial dealings, no bizarre personal habits. Candor also obliges me to confess that their discovery was not the result of years of painstaking research, of pursuing leads that brought me ever closer to the trunk in the attic of a decaying Virginia mansion. The story behind the acquisition of the letters is not without interest, however, and even a touch of drama. It is also a story of splendid cooperation among people and institutions to achieve a desirable result.