Permanent Record: What Happens to the Cards?

A trove of 1920s report cards and the stories they tell.
Sept. 18 2011 2:23 PM

Permanent Record

What happens to the cards?

You may be wondering if I gave Doretta LaPorta her mother's report card after interviewing her. No—but I will soon.

All the families I interviewed in the course of the Permanent Record project will be receiving their loved ones' report cards shortly. The rest of the cards will be placed in women's history archive, where they will be made available to scholars. (Interested parties can contact me and I'll put them in touch with the archive administrator.)

Deep down, I know this is the right thing to do, but I have mixed feelings about letting go of the report cards. On the one hand, I've always thought of myself as a collector, not a hoarder. I love old and unusual items, but my attitude has always been, "This thing was never truly mine. It was someone else's before, then it cycled into my life, and later on it can cycle back out so someone else can enjoy it." Still, the Manhattan Trade cards are on another level. They're beautiful objects, but that's the least of why they're special. They're stories; they're lives. Over the years, I've felt connected to those lives. Relinquishing that connection will be difficult.

Paul Lukas writes about food, travel, and consumer culture for a variety of publications.

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