Rachel Brune Papers
Making my way further through this collection, I am slowly nearing the bottom of the bin. Found a folder full of correspondence dating to the time she first enlisted. Her father at this point was writing her once a week, her brother a little more often in addition to letters from her sisters and friends. They talked of her progress in doing push-ups (up to 50 at one point) as well as her marksmanship skills. Amongst the papers also included a printout of her target shooting results, resembling a long grocery store receipt. At this level are papers and such that look a lot like material that was sent to her as part of correspondence but not attached to any specific letter. Some of it seemed so random, I wondered if she went through the material at all before sending it to us. I set these aside in a miscellaneous folder.
Scattered amongst this material, I find two things that raised special questions. One was a bank loan statement. As noted before, this collection is of a person still living and the papers are fairly recent. Something of this sort that has personable identifiable information that could still be active struck me as being problematic. Since it has no real relevance to the scope of the collection, we decided to set it aside to send back to her. Minutes later, I came across a sealed envelope inside a card. The envelope contained two five-dollar bills and had a note on it for Ms. Brune to buy a disposable camera to take pictures and to send back home.
"What do we do when I find actual money?" I asked.
For my supervisor, this was a bit of a first. She had seen military script, or foreign currency, but not regular cash money. In this case, we copied the envelope (since it had a personal note attached) and made a notation that it had the two five dollar bills, paper clipped the copy to the card the money came with, and put the original envelope and money into the folder with the bank statement to be sent back to her.
Of course, I could not help but think that in a hundred years time, those two bills could possibly hold actual historical interest, much as if a Civil War collection contained some bills from both or either side of the conflict. When jokes were made by the archives staff that I passed the "Honesty Test", I also had to ruefully think that the money would have covered for parking in the deck for the day with some change left over.