Finding Mrs. Surratt’s Picture

In 1988, Mike went on an extensive research trip from Maine to Key West. While in New York City, he visited the New York Public Library. As was his practice in every library he went to, he went through the card catalog looking for the papers of anyone related in any way to the Lincoln Assassination hoping he would find some tidbit of information. He did not see anything of interest until he noticed the name “Jerome Howard.” Jerome B. Howard (not to be confused with the Jerome “Curly” (Hurwitz) Howard of Three Stooges fame) co-authored books with Benn Pitman, who supervised the court reporters at the conspirators’ trials. He asked to see Howard’s papers. The Librarian brought four boxes for him to look through. As he was looking through the last one, a picture fell out. It was a photograph of Mary Surratt! Of course, Mike couldn’t believe it. He ran over to the librarian and said, “Do you know who this is?” The librarian replied, “Your grandmother?” Mike had discovered a previously unknown photograph of Mary Surratt.

Mike often says this story shows the value of conducting your own research. If he had paid a researcher in New York to look for information, he never would have thought of looking in Howard’s papers, until he saw the name Howard. No researcher would have understood the significance of the name. Although Mike had not expected to find anything of importance in Howard’s papers, the unexpected jewel of the Mary Surratt photograph shows the importance of leaving no stone unturned.

Thanks, Dave Taylor, for suggesting I share this story.

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© Michael W. Kauffman 2016