The Circle Continues

At the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, we often hear questions like, “What research is done here?” or, “What is the research about?”.

Our answer is that the Research Center holds the archival collection (or historical records) surrounding the life and works of Charles M. Schulz, and that the archives are available to researchers by appointment. At the Research Center, our Archivists answer innumerable questions posed by authors, students, and the public.

Materials from the archival collection at the Research Center.

When a beautiful gem—such as the letter below—comes to our attention, we are amazed all over again at how relevant Sparky’s words are today (I have said that I continually find comic strips that could have been written for today’s audience).

“Dear Joel: I think it is more difficult these days to define what makes a good citizen then it has ever been before. Certainly all any of us can do is follow our own conscience and retain faith in our democracy. Sometimes it is the very people who cry out the loudest in favor of getting back to what they call ‘American Virtues’ who lack this faith in our country. I believe that our greatest strength lies always in the protection of our smallest minorities. Sincerely yours, Charles M. Schulz”

We contacted the author, Joel Lipton, whose sister had posted the letter on Facebook. Joel said that he wrote the letter to Mr. Schulz when he was 10 years old in 5th grade. It was 1970, and his memory of the assignment was for the students to write a letter to someone they admired and ask the question, “What do you think makes a good citizen?”.

The letter turned up recently, and the answer must have startled Mr. Lipton by how appropriate the answer would be if written today.

I always saw Sparky as a great believer in the long flow of history—that the people of the world had seen improvements over the centuries, and that, as he says in his letter, “our greatest strength lies always in the protection of our smallest minorities.”

This leads me back to our Research Center. We continually receive material, similar to this letter, which gives us more insight into Charles Schulz and his work. We are then able to use some of these items, such as correspondence and photographs, to help tell Schulz’s story and enrich the Museum’s exhibitions.

For our latest exhibition, Behind Peanuts: The Little Red-Haired Girl, for example, we were able to borrow original drawings and gifts that Sparky gave to Donna Wold. This is the first time that these items have ever been on display, and we are excited to be able to share them with the public as part of this story.

Charles M. Schulz, Circa 1950. Ink and Watercolor on Paper. Courtesy of the Family of Donna Wold.

And so, the circle continues.

To schedule an appointment at the Research Center, you can contact our Archivists at:

—Jean Schulz

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