A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness-and a Trove of Letters-Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression
Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author’s grandfather, Sam Stone, was inspired to assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.
Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters.
Ted Gup is the author of The Book of Honor, winner of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Book-of-the-Year Award; and Nation of Secrets, winner of the Shorenstein Book Prize. He is a professor at and the chair of the Journalism Department at Emerson College. A former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and Time magazine, he has taught at Case Western Reserve University, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing as a Fulbright Scholar. He has written for publications and media outlets such as Smithsonian, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, Sports Illustrated, Slate, GQ, Mother Jones, Audubon, the Columbia Journalism Review, NPR, and Newsweek.
To Reserve: This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required but cannot be accepted until Tuesday, October 19. Please call the Athenæum’s events reservation line, (617) 720-7600.
Mr. Gup's book will be on sale after his lecture through the Globe Corner Book Store.