More than just local history is on display

A MUSEUM’S archives department is showing more than just local history.

Recent work on papers from the St Paul and Butler families has uncovered letters from two United States presidents relating to matters of international importance.

The documents belonging to the north Northumberland families are being investigated as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Working Lives Project and include a number of letters belonging to Irene Maria Butler – the granddaughter of the famous Victorian feminist, Josephine Butler.

Irene was hired in 1927 as private secretary to Lord Robert Cecil.

Her papers include communications with Dr Edouard Benes the President of Czechoslovakia, a fragment of a letter from the English novelist E F Benson, and two presidential letters believed to have been retained as keepsakes of her time with Lord Cecil.

Lynn-Marie Early, one of the archivists working on the papers, was delighted with the discovery.

“The earlier letter was from President Woodrow Wilson in May 1919 and relates to proposals for the German delegates at the Paris Peace Conference in relation to the League of Nations following the First World War,” she said.

“The second letter from President Herbert Hoover in July 1930 is a bit more of a mystery.

“It is clearly a sympathetic response to an appeal by Lord Cecil, but we have no idea about what.

“It states, ‘the traditions surrounding this office rather preclude my joining with others in an appeal of this character, although if an appeal is made I will interest myself in endeavouring to have our American associations participate’.

“If anyone has any ideas about the appeal, we’d love to hear.”

The letters can be viewed in Woodhorn’s study centre now, but next year they will be available to see through the on-line catalogue along with many other interesting documents and records discovered through the project.