The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

He was a young librarian aaaaallll night

This is a fairly accurate depiction of the first librarian I encountered at the Gelman Library. He was very serious as I told him I wanted to see the Freeman/Watts papers. "Which boxes?" he asked. "Ultimately, all of them," I said -- because boxes one through five were general correspondence and Christmas cards and Egas Moniz, boxes six through eight were Walter's early writing and his FBI report, box nine was the unpublished autobiography he wrote (so he said) for his kids, boxes ten through fifteen were all kinds of fascinating studies about stuff like "What if we give a person three lobotomies, WHAT HAPPENS THEN?" -- and on and on all the way through box twenty-one, photographs, and box twenty-two, leucotomes. But we agreed that I would start with the first five boxes and go from there.

Honestly, I still can't believe that anyone can just go in and fondle the ice picks. I fondled the ice picks. They feel good in the hand, I'll be the first to admit it.

I asked another librarian if it was true what I had been told, that this was a popular collection. She said that most people who came in to consult it were looking at the restricted part -- the fifty linear feet of patient records you need authorization to see. You only get to see a file if it's yours or a close family member's. I assume that one day these too will be publicly available, but probably not for a while, given that Walter and James Watts were lobotomizing people as young as four years old.

The librarian told me that a lot of people also come in not knowing whether a relative had been lobotomized or not. I hadn't anticipated this but it didn't surprise me. I imagine that in many families -- in yours, for all I know -- there are whispered rumors about that one weird cousin, the one who abruptly stops appearing in family pictures in around 1947, say. If you get curious enough you can go to GWU and give that weird cousin's name to the librarians, who will tell you if there's a file to match it. It's like a lobotomy lottery. It might not be a cousin, either; it might be your mother or father, or it might even be yourself. Many people who were lobotomized didn't know what had been done to them. Some weren't told beforehand what was going to happen, and some knew but forgot -- and in fairness, according to Freeman some were told and just didn't believe it. No, I wasn't ever that sick. Don't you think I'd remember being that sick? I've always been perfectly fine.
Tags: stix, walter freeman
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