View the H-SHEAR Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-SHEAR's January 2013 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-SHEAR's January 2013 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-SHEAR home page.
I forward the following eulogy for Claude-Anne Lopez, a peerless scholar of Benjamin Franklin, from the documentary-editing list-serv. R. B. Bernstein ---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Martha J. King <email@example.com> Date: Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 4:13 PM Subject: [SEDIT-L] FW: Claude-Anne Lopez (1920-2012) To: SEDIT-L@listserv.umd.edu The following tribute to Claude-Anne Lopez was prepared by Ellen Cohn of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin. I forward it to you with my personal appreciation and deepest sympathies to all who knew and worked with Claude. Martha King SEDIT-L list manager ******* I am sorry to inform the editorial community that Claude-Anne Lopez, the premier historian of Benjamin Franklin's private life and a long time editor of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, died at her home in New Haven on December 28, 2012, at the age of 92. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Some of you will remember Claude's lively talks to the ADE, and I, who worked closely with her for more than twenty years, will never forget her brilliance as an editor and her ability to turn even the most mundane tasks - be it tandem-proofreading or typing document summaries - into a source of tremendous fun. Claude had a rare combination of skills that allowed her to both focus on minutiae and synthesize huge amounts of disparate material. She had a journalist's nose for the "story" and a novelist's gift for language. Her ability to penetrate the meaning of a document was unsurpassed. The only part of editing that she disliked was filling in bibliographic citations, which she slyly managed to avoid for most of her career. A native French speaker who remained proud of her Belgian origins (and who never renounced her Belgian citizenship), Claude was a war refugee who met her future husband, Italian-born Robert Sabatino Lopez, while they were both working for the Office of War Information in New York. In the early 1950s she withdrew from a doctoral program in classics at Columbia to move to New Haven with Robert, where he would have a distinguished career in the Yale History Department. Forbidden by Yale's nepotism rules from holding a position at the university, Claude was quietly hired by professor Leonard Labaree, the first editor of the Franklin Papers, to transcribe the thousands of French documents that the Franklin team was acquiring during their initial search for material. Though she was encouraged to do nothing but transcribe, Claude became fascinated by this chaotic mass of material documenting one of the richest periods in Franklin's life. Much of it was undated and many of the letters were unsigned. Claude took notes, she kept lists, she made piles, she assembled shoeboxes full of cards, she kept files of handwriting samples, and above all, she read every single letter carefully, paying attention to tone as well as content. She dated and identified countless numbers of documents. During summer research trips in Europe with her husband, she tracked down Franklin manuscripts in archives and in private hands. Though she would piece together hugely important stories about Franklin's diplomatic and official duties, she was primarily drawn to the personal letters, particularly those to and from women. Lamenting the difficulty of reconstructing Franklin's correspondence with the beautiful and talented Mme Brillon, who dated her letters by only the "day of the week and the state of her soul," Claude charted the contours of their relationship, setting it into the context of Franklin's entire social circle in Paris, which was populated with witty intellectuals, amusing abbés, sophisticated hostesses, and a variety of charming noblemen and women who delighted in the American's every word. Bringing to this material her own characteristic charm and flair, Claude wrote the first of her books, Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris (Yale University Press, 1966). When William B. Willcox succeeded Labaree as Editor-in-Chief of the Franklin Papers in 1972, he immediately put Claude's name on the title page as Assistant Editor, crediting her for the first time as a member of the staff. She remained an editor of the Franklin Papers until her official retirement in 1987, following a year as Editor-in-Chief during which she presided over the publication of volume 27. She continued to work for the project part-time for several years thereafter. Long after she stopped coming into the office, claiming to be "sick of writing footnotes," she served as a consultant. Her research notes remain invaluable to the current editors, who also treasure the one-phrase summaries of letters from unknown correspondents that she penciled on the outside of document folders: "beggar," "crackpot," "cryptic plan from cracked (military) brain." Far from deriding these hapless unknowns, however, she delighted in summarizing their letters for our volumes in ways that conveyed their eccentricities and humanity. After she had focused on Franklin's relationships with women, Claude became fascinated by his relationships with members of his own family, which she found deeply revealing of his character in ways that had eluded previous scholars. In collaboration with Eugenia Herbert, she published The Private Franklin: the Man and his Family (Norton, 1975). This ground-breaking work received numerous prizes and is still cited for its chapter on Franklin and slavery as well as its insights into Franklin's family life. Despite these successes, Claude was unable to find a publisher for her biography of Franklin's grandson William Temple Franklin, for which she had conducted extensive research in archives in France and England as well as America. In her retirement, she began transforming some of this material into a fictional account of the Revolution intended for young adults. It was published serially on the web as William Temple Franklin's Diary, where it gained a substantial following. It can be accessed at www.ushistory.org/franklin/temple. Her other publications include A Good House Contrived to My Own Mind (National Park Service Handbook Series, 1981), Le Sceptre et la foudre: Franklin en France (Mercure de France, 1990), and My Life with Benjamin Franklin (Yale University Press, 2000), in addition to numerous articles, encyclopedia entries, and the notes for an edition of Franklin's Bagatelles (Eakins Press, 1967). Claude's abilities as a speaker were legendary, and she was highly sought after as a lecturer and a "talking head" for television documentaries. She was equally engaging in English, French and Italian. She won fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, was knighted by the king of Belgium, received the Hamar Award of the Society of American Archivists, and was honored numerous times by the Friends of Franklin, an organization she helped found. Extraordinarily generous with her knowledge, she assisted and collaborated with scholars throughout Europe and the United States. A memorial service is being planned for later this spring. Details will be forthcoming. For more information on her life, see the website mounted by her family: www.claudeannelopez.com. Ellen Cohn The Papers of Benjamin Franklin