USFS Passport in Time (PIT) Volunteer Opportunities April-October 1999 are NOW on-line. The PIT information is produced by Carol Ellick of Statistical Research, Inc. of Tucson AZ. SWA posts the information as a community service. The latest PIT project list and project descriptions are available at Point at the "Opportunities" link !

COLLECTION SHEDS LIGHT ON SHARLOT HALL'S LIFE 03/25/99 PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) _ In a cloistered New England attic heavy with dusty history, the sentiments of a familiar Prescott voice were penned on parchment as delicate as an old lady's skin. Late last spring, more than 50 letters, poems and photographs sent to Frances Anderson Gillette from Prescott's Sharlot Hall were discovered in a box where they had lain forgotten for more than 70 years. Deborah Lavoie, a rare books and manuscripts dealer from New Hampshire, purchased 100 boxes of documents from the Gillette estate. Among them were the poignant Hall documents dating from the 1880s to 1925. "Who was this Sharlot Hall?" Lavoie wondered, as she read with more than passing interest of Hall's trek through the Arizona Strip as the state's historian, of her experiences with quicksand, smuggled turtles and re-decoration of a governor's mansion. July 30, 1911 Dear Franc: "...the heart of the painted desert ... is as beautiful as the grand canon, as richly colored, as vast ...(with) the little Colorado which was full of muddy water rushing along like an arm of the sea." Nov. 2, 1911 Dear Franc: "...our secretary of the scenic vocabulary broke out in a wild effort to be nominated for governor and was defeated and now is as sore as a newly trodden corn ... (our) new state in the grip of its first election pains is funny enough to make one reconcile to life till after the vote is counted at least." The letters continue to paint a warm and endearing portrait of Sharlot as she talks of such down-to-earth subjects as "socks waiting to be darned _ in the year 2000 most likely" and her tortoise "Billy Nevada," whom she disguised as a set of Balzac novels to smuggle him onto a train. "It became apparent to me that this was one passionate go-getter of a woman-type who was writing these," Lavoie said in an e-mail to Sharlot Hall Museum upon discovering its website last May. The Collection of Sharlot M. Hall papers was purchased from Lavoie by the museum for an undisclosed amount on Feb. 24. Lavoie personally came to Arizona to deliver them. "She was so endeared to Sharlot Hall through her writings that she came out here to see Arizona and the museum and brought the materials," said museum archivist Michael Wurtz. "She visited Sharlot's grave, Orchard Ranch, and stayed at St. Michael Hotel." Acquiring this collection of letters and poems may well be the most significant event in the museum's history since Hall's death in April 1943. "This is monumental for the museum," Wurtz said. "The provenance is great for us because we know the collection's history," said assistant museum archivist Ann Foster. "The letters were in the possession of the Gillette family, then a dealer had them for a year before we acquired them." Sharlot may initially have gotten to know the Gillettes through Frances' husband, a nerve doctor in Phoenix who Sharlot Hall visited for chronic back pain she suffered from an injury when she fell off a horse at age 12 on her way from Kansas to Prescott. Apparently, Sharlot rented a house from the Gillettes in Phoenix during her tenure as Arizona historian and continued writing them at their second residence back East. Until the collection was discovered, the museum had never heard of Frances Gillette. "Frances sounds like one of Sharlot's closest female friends," Foster said. In addition to the letters, the previously unseen poems by Sharlot are priceless. "The poetry is much stronger in tone than what we have," Foster said. Some are blatantly against interracial marriage, a common view of her day, others heatedly feminist. "We already knew she was a strong feminist for her time, but these go further in confirming her views," Foster said. "The collection has enlightened us _ it's much more succinct." "The museum has a very official history of Sharlot," Wurtz said, "but something like this gives us a look at another side of her. These letters come closer to explaining what Sharlot would be like if you sat down and talked to her." The last major research done on Sharlot was Margaret F. Maxwell's biography "Passion for Freedom," published in 1982. "I would hope because this is new material, that it would re-invigorate research on Sharlot Hall," Foster said, "to examine her in different lights in a literary sense as a writer and a feminist within her era." The family of a Connecticut puppeteer is battling a Detroit museum in federal court for custody of Howdy Doody. Rose's three sons and Smith's widow appear taken aback by the museum's aggressiveness. A U.S. grand jury indicted two men after a 6,000-year-old archaeological site was damaged.