By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist
Garner Ranney compiled a 152-page document, which reads like a good mystery story, proving that the manuscripts sold to the university were the property of the Diocese of Maryland, and all 13,000 were returned. Another 739 documents, traced to a university in Maryland, were also returned. Confronted by the evidence, Mr. Dover said that the aged archivist had given him permission to take whatever he liked, and not wanting to cause the infirm archivist pain and embarrassment, the chancellor and Ranney declined to prosecute.
These thousands of documents are still being processed. Ranney sorted them by author, but was never able to do more. They live in the vault of the archives, and are being processed little by little. Some folders contain many letters, almost all having been written to Bp. Whittingham in the 19th century. One clergyman’s file holds 302 letters! As they are read and accessioned, details not previously available to researchers come to light. If you ever want to read Ranney’s 152-page “Mystery of the Stolen Documents”, I will lend you a copy. Fascinating reading, and an ode to the quiet yet determined defender of the intellectual property that is our legacy – Garner Ranney.