Discovering Personal Relationships in Organizational Records

While some people may think of organizational records of being largely impersonal due to their primary function of documenting business activities, this is not true in all cases.  Organizational records may document not only business functions, but relationships.  The founders and other staff of organizations maintain professional relationships that may also develop a personal element over time.  These relationships may be documented by such items as holiday cards, wedding invitations, family photographs, postcards, notes, and other personal items.

The Georges Borchardt, Inc. Records illustrate these possibilities.  The literary agency was originally co-founded by Georges and Anne Borchardt in the 1960s, and while it has expanded over the years, the founders still remain with the agency today.  The agency has represented many authors over the years, such as T.C. Boyle, John Gardner, and Tracy Kidder, and the records document small personal exchanges in addition to the business transactions that you would expect to find in a literary agency’s records.

For example, Michael Sporn, who was represented by the agency in the late 1970s and early 1980s, created his own Christmas cards.  A selection of these cards can be found in his file:

Christmas Card

Christmas Card

And there are also other short notes, such as this holiday card from Judy Troy:

Christmas Card

And then there are just unique items that you didn’t expect to find in the records, such as this item found in Muriel Spark’s file:

Letter with Cat Photographs


These are just a few examples, but quite representative of the types of items that you might find within the records of an organization that are able to shed some light on the more personal side of its relationships with its clients.

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