Surprises in the Archives

One of the best parts of working in an archive is finding hidden treasures in the institution’s collection. Sometimes those treasures are truly exciting finds of epic historical worth that give you goosebumps the moment you realize what you are looking at. This is not one of those finds. But it did make us chuckle.

While rehousing a series of eight formal portraits of past directors of Wyoming’s Worker’s Compensation department, I came across the portrait of William P. “Bill” Petry. Petry served as director of the department for nearly 20 years, from 1943 to 1962. His portrait was nicely done, but not particularly noteworthy.

William P "Bill" Petry, Director of Workers Comp 1943-1962  (WSA Sub Neg 24478, P94-23_7)

William P “Bill” Petry, Director of Workers Comp 1943-1962
(WSA Sub Neg 24478, P94-23_7)

…until you turned it over. This was the image taped to the back.

Drawing taped to back of photo frame. (WSA Sub Neg 24478, P94-23_7a)

Drawing taped to back of photo frame.
(WSA Sub Neg 24478, P94-23_7a)

Just a reminder that history is neither boring nor predictable.

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