Waldo Ralph Browne to Louis Freeland Post, December 18, 1922


ENCLOSURE C, Dec. 31/22

Report of Progress by Waldo R. Browne in the Preparation of the Proposed Biography of John P. Altgeld.

Wyoming, New York
December 18, 1922.

Dear Mr. Post:

No doubt you, as well as the subscribers to the Altgeld biography fund, will be glad to know in a general way what progress I have been able to make to the present time on the task which has been assigned to me.

Until about six weeks ago my efforts were devoted almost entirely to collecting, copying and arranging the data for the book. This has proved a long and difficult process. Altgeld himself left practically no personal papers or records, such as commonly form the chief reliance of a biographer. I have therefore had to extract my material from all sorts of scattered sources -- newspaper files, books, magazines, etc., and from correspondence and interviews with those of his friends and associates who are still living. This work has occupied several months, and is still going on. Within the last few weeks, however, I have begun the task of putting such material as I have into literary form, and have already completed the rough drafts of four or five chapters. I am hoping to have the completed manuscript ready for the printers next Spring, and to see it through the press during the Summer. If these hopes materialize, the book will be published early in the Fall of 1923.

As far as I am now able to judge, the volume will consist of not less than 300 and not more than 500 pages. The title will probably be "Altgeld of Illinois: A Record of His Life and Public Career." As this title indicates, the book will be in the main a narrative of facts and events, rather than a critical or interpretative biography. Of course I shall try to portray the man himself, as well as to record the facts of his life; but I do not conceive that a detailed psychological study of Altgeld's character, temperament, motives, etc., comes within the scope of my task -- as it certainly does not come within the scope of my knowledge or abilities. The essential thing, as I see it, is to make available a permanent record of Altgeld's life and work, as complete and accurate and sympathetic as possible; letting the spirit of the man reveal itself in the main, as it is bound to do, in the narrative of his life and deeds and accomplishments.

This is the gist of what I have to report at the present time. Of course I shall keep you informed at intervals during the next few months as to further progress and developments.

Sincerely yours,