The Margaret Bearden Papers contain correspondence and audio tapes relating to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, including 3 boxes, encompassing 4.5 linear feet: 1 box of correspondence and 2 boxes of tapes. The correspondence is between Mrs. Bearden and a variety of fellow Lincoln assassination researchers and writers, including Otto Eisenschiml, David Rankin Barbee, Colonel Julian E. Raymond, Dr. Richard Mudd, et alia. The tapes are, for the most part, recordings of lectures pertaining to the assassination of Lincoln and the Civil War in general.
The collection is a valuable tool for the historiography of the Lincoln assassination. So many researchers have reached so many different theories about the alleged conspiracy to kill President Lincoln, that these theories have become a controversial study in themselves. The Bearden Papers contain many letters from people expressing their individual theories and discussing the theories of others. Much can be gleaned from them about, for example, how Otto Eisenschiml regarded the ideas of other top researchers in this field; or where researchers such as David Rankin Barbee got their information; or who was regarded as the current authority about a particular aspect of the assassination.
Mrs. Bearden's area of specialization with regard to the Lincoln assassination is the Surratt family, particularly John H. Surratt. Other scholars would often refer people to Mrs. Bearden for expert and objective information on the Surratts. The letters however are not solely concerned with the Surratt family; they cover many opinions on a variety of interesting aspects of the assassination and alleged conspiracy.
Collection-level Access Restrictions
Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.