Monday, November 21, 2016

Tomáš G. Masaryk Papers, 1887-1955

Randomly, today at lunch in Salt Lake City, we sat down next to this guy at a cafe whose wife's father, Stephen Taggart, was a significant contributor to Czech history. Later, I also met his wife. They are a lovely senior missionary couple from Idaho serving a mission in the FamilySearch record preservation (or something like this) department.

Stephen was an LDS missionary in Czechoslovakia before world war II. He really loved the Czech people, especially the ideas of Tomáš Masaryk. He later returned and worked for the embassy in Prague, and actually smuggled Czechs out during the beginning of communism. “One of them he smuggled under the hood of his car, for example.”

He had a hobby of going to antique bookshops and buying everything he could find that had to do with Masaryk and Czech history, because he was aware that it was worth preserving and in danger of being lost. Sure enough, at the beginning of communism, many of Masaryk’s writings were destroyed/purged from public record. Stephen donated the huge 1,000+ volume collection to Utah State University. One third of the collection is unique; no other known copy exists anywhere else in the world! He received an honorary degree from Charles University for his contribution to Czech history in 1999.

It is really remarkable this guy was able to preserve some of these records, including letters, newspapers, and books. Here's an article about it.

Isn't that interesting? I have many friends and family connections in Logan, where this university is located. If you or whoever you knew ever wanted access to these records, just ask and we can arrange some volunteer lookups. This kind of valuable piece of history should be accessible.

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