Introductory Essay to The Lost First Edition of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" - Gene DeGruson - Peachtree Press

Introductory Essay to The Lost First Edition of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" - Gene DeGruson - Peachtree Press

by: Gene DeGruson | publication date: January 1, 1988 |

"In the summer of 1980 a young man brought to Pittsburg State
University a small truckload of rotting, mildewed paper. He had been
hired, he explained, to clean out a cellar of a nearby Girard, Kansas,
farm. Upon seeing the name of Upton Sinclair on several pieces of
correspondence, he decided that perhaps the material should go to the
local university's library rather than to the county dump.

Too fragile to handle, the papers were covered with brightly colored mold,
dyed purple by typewriter ribbon and red and green by inks used to write
and print the documents. The fetid mass eventually proved to be over a
thousand business records, inner office memos, and correspondence of
the Appeal to Reason, once the nation's leading Socialist newspaper. Six
months of drying were followed by weeks of careful brushing. More than
a year was to pass before the most delicate items were deacidified and
mounted on rag paper. Then began the organization of the papers. Pages
of letters had become separated, and, in the sorting and drying process,
many pieces no larger than a dime were stored to await their place in
what came to be regarded as a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

Throughout the long and tedious period of reconstruction, however, there
was no question that the time and expense would be warranted. . . "

DeGruson first plumbed the papers of "Appeal to Reason" when they showed up on the doorstep of the academic library at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, with its trove of Upton Sinclair material and back issues of the weekly that included both the serialization of "The Jungle: A Story of Chicago" and and special supplement readers could order to read the completion of the series.

Copyright, the Gene DeGruson Estate (per Peachtree Press).