The oldest grandson of President Harry and Bess Truman, Clifton Truman Daniel, spoke at the Missouri State Archives on October, 16, 2014, about his new book, Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman’s Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943.
One evening in 1955, Harry Truman came home to find Bess burning her letters to him. "What are you doing? Think of history," he said. "Oh, I have," she replied and tossed in another stack.
Bess Truman thought her business was hers and nobody else’s, so she destroyed her half of the more than 2,600 letters she and Harry exchanged during their courtship and marriage. However, while making an inventory of the Truman home in the 1980s, archivists discovered 184 letters Bess had missed. Her grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, will shared them, along with portions of Harry’s responses, family photographs and stories. These letters provide new insight into the life and personalities of Bess and Harry Truman during the formative years of his political life. Despite Bess’s shy and self-effacing manner, her lively correspondence offers a glimpse of a caring and witty woman who shared her concerns about family, politics and day-to-day activities with her husband.
The Missouri State Archives is the official repository for state documents of permanent historic value, and is located at 600 W. Main Street in Jefferson City. All programs at the Archives are free of charge and open to the public, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.