28 April, 2011

Cover Girl

Every once in awhile while researching a project, I'll be fortunate to have a grande découverte (big find) land my lap. This morning just such a thing occurred. I was pouring through the archives looking for a picture of Edith Rockefeller McCormick's mother; Laura Celestia ("Cettie") Spelman. With Mother's Day approaching I thought it would be fun to post a picture of the woman who created the woman who initiated Villa Turicum.

This alone presented it's own challenge, because despite the fact that Edith's mother was married to a tremendously famous man (John D.), Laura Spelman Rockefeller has very little written about her. Combine that with a period (1839-1915) in which photographs were not common (with precious few surviving) and a time when the social mores were prohibitive - well, you had better be prepared to buckle down for a long hunt. Regardless of that, after frisking the National Archives, I discovered a photo of Laura Spelman Rockefeller that was taken late in her life:

Laura Spelman & John D. Rockefeller circa 1905-10

What I didn't expect to happen was that the result of this search led me to another location (and about 451 files) which took me to yet another spot and then landed me in unfamiliar territory. It was here that I discovered; The Picture. And here it is:

Mrs. Harold McCormick

This I hadn't prepared for, and I realized a few seconds after my discovery that I had my grande découverte. An unpublished photo of "Mrs. Harold McCormick" taken sometime around 1900-10. Once I regained my wits (and breath) I acknowledged that I now have a match for what I have always envisioned as the cover for Edith's biography. The task at hand now - is to write it.

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