The Hudson Collection is comprised of 17 boxes of materials that were donated by Hudson’s family at the time her home was sold in 2011. 16 of them are standard “banker box” size (15 x 12 x 9), and one is about three times that. Packed with some haste, there is no particular order to the material.
Let me start by saying that Hudson was an inveterate, perhaps compulsive, student/researcher. If she was going to write about something, she was going to know it as well as she could know it! There are folders upon folders of magazine articles, magazines, and newspaper clippings. The sheer number of her personal notes to herself, written often in pencil, in her tiny script, on tiny pieces of paper, would fill at least a box of their own. Multiple copies of multiple items are on hand. Some might say that Hudson was something of a “pack rat,” and I wouldn’t necessarily argue… At the same time, having come to know her as I have, I can also say with clarity that each of these things had meaning and value, and importantly, usefulness to her.
What this means in practice is that much more of what Hudson saved will likely end up recycled – more than I anticipated at the outset – and I’m used to that idea now. Things that meant something to her at the time; things that she may have used or referenced in her work, or simply to educate herself, will not of themselves add to the future understanding of this woman and her thought.
Simply put, it is not possible to learn everything that impacts who and how anyone becomes the person they are. Hudson’s thoughts themselves, shaped by her study of myriad topics and then evidenced in her own work, must do that for us.
For example, things currently in the (probably) “to be recycled” pile:
In a folder entitled “Writers on Writing:” 4 folders of photocopied articles by Frank O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor, Mary McCarthy, and Eudora Welty. None include any notes by Hudson that relate to her personal work or particular significance to her. (Also in this folder was a story, correspondence and information about the 1996 Olympic Field Seminars which will receive a MUCH closer look.)
Another folder contains just two items – a 1989 news clipping and a single sheet torn from the August 1993 edition of Scientific American, both mentioning the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
A third folder contains 5 copies of The New Yorker, and maybe a dozen paper clipped articles torn from (mostly) other copies of the magazine, on topics as diverse as murder, Alzheimer’s, friendship, capitalism, and schizophrenia. There are no notes; nothing that indicates what specific relevance they had for Hudson.
On the other hand, there are some true gems:
Virtually every draft Hudson wrote of a story entitled “My Mother Waiting in the Fog.”
Her story “A Dispute Over the Mountains,” which was thought to be “lovely,” but which was rejected by at least 6 publications as “overwritten.”
A story published in the Hawaii Review, entitled “Next Summer.” This folder contains correspondence between Hudson and the publication; the publication requested some revisions, which Hudson agreed to only rather grudgingly after some back and forth.
Some items fall into a sort of limbo – admittedly, some of the things I love best:
Hudson’s Girl Scout membership card; still in pristine condition, from 1941.
Her 1945 Lake Washington High School plaque, denoting “participation with honor in…Honor Society, Band, Girl’s Club Cabinet, Loyalty, Chorus.”
Yearbooks from the then College (now University) of Puget Sound.
The most key piece of advice and direction that I have been given in terms of beginning the archival process comes from E. Nolan, of the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS; WSHS has agreed to accept the Hudson collection when I’ve completed the first (?!) round of work on it), paraphrased here: “Not everything needs to be saved; is worth saving; does not meaningfully add to our understanding. What is desirable is to have the collection represent the individual in such a way that anyone viewing it in 50 years will be able to gain a good perspective of the person and their work.”
As I again begin to work on sorting through the boxes and now, at this point, am finally feeling ready both to “purge” as necessary, and reorganize by category/affiliation, I feel equally daunted and excited by what is ahead of me. I strongly feel a responsibility to Hudson; to show her wide ranging interests and deep intellect at their best. However, that brilliance did have a “downside” that I am also obligated to retain, for the purpose of giving as balanced a perspective I can, through what she left behind.