Papers of Hattie Grace Elliott
ledger of Hattie Grace Elliott, 1934, illustrates the democratic
nature of Archives. Archives preserve the details of the lives
of “ordinary” people, those strangers only ordinary
until you get to know them.
perms and butter and sets and milk translated into numbers and
carefully lined up in columns in the ledger of Hattie Grace’s
beauty shop. Add Zola Dorris’s memories of pies and six-layer
cakes and it all totals up to a community of women – with
every hair in place - feeding their families in hard times.
also demonstrates the principle of secondary value in Archives.
T. R. Schellenberg, an early leader in American archival theory,
explained that records acquire archival value only when they are
preserved for reasons other than the reason for their creation.
Hattie Grace’s ledger is no longer of use to her as a personal
business record but it is useful
to us as information about the Depression years or persistence
of non-monetary economic systems or the sociology of beauty shops,
and any number of other topics.