In March, the National Archives will open an exhibit called “Making Their Mark.” It will feature notable documents from U.S. history, with a focus on the signatures and the people who penned them.
The exhibit caught my attention because I’m in the middle of creating a finding aid for the W. Russell Carr Papers. This collection of correspondence, scrapbooks, and other materials belonged to the late Walter Russell Carr, who started out as a Fayette County attorney and went on to serve as the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1937 to 1959. Over the course of his career, Carr corresponded with people from all walks of life, including U.S. Senators, coal miners, political party leaders, housewives, mayors, and prisoners.
Most of the letters in the Carr collection are typewritten, so it’s really the signatures that add that personal flair. I think this quote from the National Archives’ press release hits the nail on the head:
Signatures are personal. The act of signing can be as simple as a routine mark on a form, or it can be a stroke that changes many lives. Signatures can be an act of defiance, or a symbol of thanks and friendship.
I’ve picked out some of the more unique signatures from the collection. Click on the pictures for a closer look!