*(Hat tip to barber/crooner Perry Cuomo and his “Letters” song…)
Today, Luther Halsey Gulick 3d would undoubtedly be firing off emails and posting on Facebook, Instagram — maybe even dancing on TikTok. But in his heyday, Gulick (who, remember, died in 1993 at almost 101) had only his trusty typewriter and telephone. He was especially devoted to writing end-of-the-year letters to far-flung family members, recounting his good-government adventures as an FDR insider, wartime planner, and urban strategist, and sharing his lively assessments of contemporary politicians and the often sorry state of the world.
Our Baruch Library Archives’s collection of his papers and records of his Institute of Public Administration include reams of this correspondence, recently augmented by copies of newsy family letters gifted by his nephew Denny Gulick, son of Luther’s brother Sidney. A granddaughter, Lisa Gulick, recently emptied Luther’s longtime vacation retreat in Greensboro Vt., yielding more files and memorabilia we hope to get a look at shortly.
Meanwhile, the family letters from Denny shed a revealing light on how this public administration visionary viewed and shaped his world.
Take this only faintly readable missive of April 4, 1943 from Luther to his father, Sidney Lewis Gulick, a noted Congregationalist missionary then celebrating his 83d birthday, with copies to Luther’s siblings Ethel and Sidney. (Blame the illegibility on a wartime shortage of carbon paper, or Luther’s admission in a 1944 letter “I had the carbons all in backwards.”)
In the second and third paragraphs, Gulick refers to his work on a government relief program that, in the midst of war, struggled to feed, clothe and house some half-billion refugees. A month’s emergency food allotment was put at close to a million tons. By August 1943 — see below, “When America Fed (and Led) the World” — the monthly global need was put at more than 3.5 million tons. (No need to belabor the obvious — that aiding today’s Afghan, Syrian, Haitian, Latin American, Uyghur and other desperate displaced persons seems absolutely doable by comparison.)
This one is easier to read…
Here’s a great find!! (Didn’t we tell you Gulick was an avid collector?)
By the way, we’re still looking for that stamp.
Let’s sign off for now this with this historic gem — Gulick’s tribute to the fallen chief he had served and counseled over decades from Albany to Washington.