5 Replies Latest reply on Apr 12, 2021 12:36 AM by Michelle Kinnucan

    Mystery Signature/Initials on April 7, 1922, Letter

    Michelle Kinnucan Wayfarer

      Greetings, I am trying to determine who signed an April 7, 1922, to Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. concerning the King-Crane Commission report. You can view the letter online here at frames 67-69.

       

      The letter is on the stationery of the Under Secretary of State. William Phillips was appointed Under Secretary of State on March 31, 1922, but his "Entry on Duty" was April 26, 1922. In any case, the signature/initials on the letter don't look like a "WP".

       

      One archivist has suggested that the letter may bear the "LH" initials of Leland Harrison. However, first letter doesn't appear to me to be an "L". Moreover, Harrison was Assistant Secretary of State at the time and never served as Under Secretary. Why would he use the Under Secretary of State's stationery?

       

      A larger mystery the letter raises is why, according to the author, was the publication of the King-Crane Commission report not "compatible with the public interest"?

        • Re: Mystery Signature/Initials on April 7, 1922, Letter
          Jenette Parish Adventurer

          Hello Ms. Kinnucan,

           

          Thank you for posting your question on the History Hub. Your question is very interesting, however, the National Archives is only the custodian of US Government records. We provide public access to records in our catalog but we are unable to solve the mystery of who may have possibly signed the document in question. Additionally, we cannot determine the status of the document being incompatible with other reports or public interest.

           

           

          Best of luck with your research.

          • Re: Mystery Signature/Initials on April 7, 1922, Letter
            Rachael Salyer Scout

            Dear Ms. Kinnucan,

             

            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

             

            Since the file you are researching is part of the series Central Decimal Files, 1910-1963 (Microfilm Publication M367) in the General Records of the Department of State (Record Group 59), you may wish to contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov to see if they can offer you any additional assistance with the records. We also located 2 additional reference to "King-Crane" that may provide some context for identifying the signator of the letter.

             

            We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

             

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            • Re: Mystery Signature/Initials on April 7, 1922, Letter
              Ethan Kent Adventurer

              Dear Ms. Kinnucan:

               

              My name is Ethan Kent, and I do some volunteer work as a "Citizen Archivist Transcriber" with the National Archives Catalog interface: I tend to review others' transcriptions (although sometimes I do work solely from review of the Images), and I often research to try to find out about persons, places, and things mentioned in documents I work on (which these days tend to be pre-1880s and handwritten).

               

              I found your query intriguing (actually, the header given to it), as I try to decipher difficult writing if I can do so.

               

              About the parts of your query:

               

              1) About Images 67-69 in the File Unit in question:

               

              A) There are actually 2 separate (but related) messages seen in those 3 Images (with the same initials as "signature" -- & both on "DEPARTMENT OF STATE/THE UNDERSECRETARY" letterhead/stationery: a small 1-page note (addressed to "Mr. Turlington" -- who seems to have been (then an "Assistant Solicitor" in the State Department) Edgar Willis Turlington (1891-1959); it's his "ET" initials seen beneath his handwritten addition to the typewritten message) seen in Image 67 (in which it is emphasized by hand (by Mr. Turlington?)  that the report in question would not be "compatible" "with the" "public interest"), and a 2-page message  (addressed to "The Secretary") seen in Images 68 & 69.

               

              B) I think it's safe to say that without other clues, it can often be very difficult to decipher handwritten initials.

               

              I think that the initials definitely include an "A", but I'm not sure of the "1st" initial; the initials (of addressees) at the top of Mr. Turlington's handwritten note seen in Image 66 to ["TA"? "PA"?] & to "ACM" suggest that the initial signature may be either "PA" or "TA'.

               

              C) I'm not sure how much it matters whether the person who initialed both messages was actually the Undersecretary of State in early April of 1922 or not, but I'm pretty sure that the initials were not "WP", and that they do include an "A".

               

              D) If I were you, I would "poke around" at other related documents in the File Unit in question and see whether the initialer reveals his (or (just possibly) her identity (and there might be related documents in Record Group 256 (related to the negotiations after World War I) ; otherwise, looking a the (dated May 1, 1922) Register of the Department of State (which includes Mr. Turlington's name) may point you toward the right individual (conceivably (although no "P" or "T" initial in his name) 2nd Assistant Secretary of State Alvey A. Adee -- or maybe a lower-level employee).

               

              2) About the reason why making the report "public" was adjudged inadvisable (as opposed to (it seems) allowing the US Senator requesting information to have a one-on-one meeting with the Secretary of State):

               

              Please see Mr. Turlington's (again handwritten, but rather-clearly-legible) note visible in Image 70: I believe that explains the squeamishness adequately (although you probably were just wondering "aloud" as to why public release was rejected, Ms. Kinnucan).

               

              Happy reading and researching.

               

              Ethan W. Kent (or "EthanFromBellmore" as a Citizen Archivist).

              1 person found this helpful
              • Re: Mystery Signature/Initials on April 7, 1922, Letter
                Ethan Kent Adventurer

                PS (partly because I could not edit my earlier message after posting):

                 

                1) I meant to state that the May 1, 1922 Register of the Department of State (which not only lists State Department Employees, but contains bits of biographical information about them up to date of publication too) is viewable via Google Books (which is how I accessed it);

                 

                2) "ACM" (called "Dr. Millspaugh" and "Doctor Millspaugh" in Images 68-69 & other nearby Images/documents in the File Unit) seems to have been Dr. Arthur Chester Millspaugh (1883-1955) -- who has his own current English-language-Wikipedia article seems to have been working for the State Department in early 1922 (and to have been dispatched to Tehran late during that Gregorian calendar year, according to the Wikipedia article) ; this Dr. Millspaugh seems to have agreed with Mr. Turlington that aspects of the Report (which is found in the File Unit in question from Image 76 (which itself seems to have been declassified in 1958) should not have been "made public" in early April of 1922.

                 

                Good Luck, Ms. Kinnucan.

                 

                Ethan W. Kent/"EthanFromBellmore".

                1 person found this helpful