John West: In His Own Words is now available online!
When SCPC first started our “In Their Own Words” series, our idea was to digitize selected documents from our (typically very voluminous!) collections—particularly, to showcase the writings, speeches, and other personal expressions of our donors as leading political and public figures.
We now have six editions of “In Their Own Words,” with more planned. They have turned out to be a great way to give researchers and web visitors a small sampling of our collections, and to illustrate some of the expressiveness, humor, and eloquence of their creators.
From early on, I thought that the writings of former governor and ambassador John C. West would be a natural fit for this format. I knew the West collection very well, since I did substantial processing of it several years ago. I had seen firsthand that it contains a real treasure trove of not only historic documents relating to West’s official roles, but also personal insights and observations from a real student of politics, history, and the human experience. His papers create a colorful portrait of the man, his personality, and his public service.
In selecting documents to be digitized, I tried to include a cross-section covering the various chapters of West’s life and career, different roles and challenges he took on, as well as his own efforts to document his life, including excerpts from the daily diary he kept for some years, and a draft version of a memoir in which he tells of his childhood, school years, war service, and early political career.