Archival research is often tedious. Every so often, though, something unusual pops out at you. While trying to clean up some of my dissertation’s footnotes on materials from the Truman Library’s online holdings, I came across a bizarre little ditty that Truman had written out on a scrap of paper. He doodled on the other side.
One of the pleasures of doing historical research is coming across things that have nothing to do with what you’re researching. This morning I was trying to find material on what the traveling evangelist Mordecai F. Ham thought about Zionism. Ham was famous for three things–being a great revivalist, converting Billy Graham, and antisemitic rabblerousing. He was also for a brief time the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. While searching The Oklahoman‘s archives for mentions of the pastor, I came across a 1927 article about Ham getting hit by a car on North Robinson. Ham, it seems, not only blamed the devil, but called him out:
“I have been lying here trying to figure out why I was hurt and who was to blame. You will remember that I had a great deal to say about the devil that was not complimentary to him. I also had announced a series on ‘Satanic Cults’ for this fall. I guess the devil tried to head me off.
I want to serve notice on him now that unless he does a cleaner job of knocking me out I will have a great deal more to say about him just as soon as these doctors and my good wife will permit me to return to my pulpit.”