Sunday, February 1, 2009

February Library Cover Story

For the Library History Buff website, I do a feature each month which I call "Library Cover Story". Cover is a philatelic term for an envelope, postal card, or similar postal artifact that has been sent through the mail (or is intended to be sent through the mail). The cover story for February is about two covers that were sent to Miss Laurabelle Zack in 1948. At the time Miss Zack worked at the Reference Library of the Associated Press in New York City. She later married William N. Oatis, a journalist for the Associated Press who became internationally famous when he was arrested as a spy by the government of Czechoslovakia in 1951. Oatis was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released in 1953 after the Czech government said it received a poignant plea from his wife Laurabelle. The release of Oatis also followed the death of Joseph Stalin and an angry letter from President Eisenhower which may have been more relevant to his release than the letter from Laurabelle. More about William Oatis can be found here and here. I was pleased to learn from Oatis's son Jeremy that Laurabelle Oatis is still living at the age of 84. She was nicknamed "Betty Boop" because of her resemblance to the cartoon character which explains the illustration on the cover above.

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