A Crocheted Uterus for Judy Blume

Texting with a patron saint of collective knowledge

Since last spring, I’ve been adhering to a strict diet: I can give my research the fuel it needs to keep going, but with research libraries closed, there’s little variety. I miss archival indulgences—the little things librarians bring you that you didn't know you wanted—the most. In Memphis, a specialist brought me the 1890s school catalogs I’d come to see, along with a letter that a government official sent to Coretta Scott King, apologizing for sending her the bill for municipal services in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination.

I know librarians, the patron saints of collective knowledge, miss giving us these gifts, too. So, last week on Twitter, I put out a call: If you’re in the archives, I want to hear from you. I didn’t offer any additional details. Many assumed I was writing an article about being back at work, while others, I’m proud to report, thought I was writing the librarian fan fic I’ve threatened to devote my retirement to. The reality was a little more Miranda July.

Rosemary K. J. Davis, the Accessioning Archivist for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, responded to my call. I asked her to give me her personal phone number and agree to respond to my texts during the work day, unsure of what would come. A glimpse of a world unknown to others? A few cool visuals? 

Rosemary, who sent me a photo of a crocheted uterus that a fan knitted for Judy Blume, turned out to be the perfect collaborator. This is the conversation we had last Tuesday.


See you next week! Until then, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram and the books I’ve mentioned on Bookshop and Amazon.