Document Spotlight-The Government Helps a Widow

July 18th, 2013

Today’s letter, brought to us by volunteer transcriber Deblegs, describes the government’s role in helping a widow recover some money owed her. The writer, a Mr. Dunscomb, reports to Josiah Howell that Mrs Williams has applied several times for benefits resulting from her husband’s death in service. It appears that another officer had been given funds to pay Mr. Williams, but had not; Dunscomb suggests that the widow’s money be taken from that officer to help Mrs. Williams as much as possible. He writes with compassion for her situation-“it will be of much use to Mrs Williams”-but also with some irritation at her many requests for help: “you will not only serve the concerned but rid me of frequent unnecessary applications.” All in all, a slightly complicated look at the world of accounts and bureaucrats. Moreover, it highlights some of the tensions between wanting to help and being inundated with desperate cases-all of which required investigation and diligence.

Read the original document here.

Next week we’ll feature another installment in our transcriber spotlight series.

It is not too late–there are many more documents awaiting transcription. Take a moment to register (http://wardepartmentpapers.org/scripto/register.php) and choose a document to begin your adventure. You will be doing important work by adding to the historical record, and you never know what you will read!