In Remembrance of Matt

Today is my eldest brother Matt’s birthday. He was born in 1952, so he would have been 61. He died in late January 2012.Matt Partin, Kansas City, 2005

I was missing him today, thinking of how I wish I could have broken through his reserve and had a closer relationship with him.

I am happy to say that Matt’s research for a book on Harry Truman’s first election to the US Senate is available at the State Historical Society of Missouri. The society graciously agreed to keep his papers so others could benefit from his detailed research on Kansas City politics and policies in the 1920s and 1930s.

Here is a short excerpt from my brother’s book proposal:

…the biographies and other works about Truman have the history of his time in Kansas City politics backwards. In fact, the history was actually put backwards in the 1930s–1940s. That was done by frustrated election opponents of Truman and other Democrats, by an equally frustrated and virulently Republican Kansas City Star, and by William Reddig, a Star editor and the author of Tom’s Town: Kansas City and the Pendergast Legend. Reddig’s book was a campaign attack-history aimed at helping prevent Truman’s reelection in 1948, by implicitly portraying him as a knowing and willing beneficiary of the corruption, crime, electoral fraud and violence which, according to Reddig, pervaded and sustained the local Democratic coalition. Spread widely by biographers, who mistook Tom’s Town for a true history of Truman’s part in Kansas City politics, Reddig’s stories have kept that history backwards for decades. My book will put that history back around to straight forward.

I intend to scan my brother’s book proposal and put it up on this site to provide publicity for his research. I would like Truman historians to read some of the articles he copied from Kansas City newspapers before they become illegible.

Here is a link to the Matthew K. Partin (1952–2012) Collection (K1254) at the State Historical Society of Missouri. (This link may change in the future when the SHSMO’s Columbia branch sets up a new website.) The collection page contains a link to a PDF describing Matt’s collection. It states that Matt’s research was for a novel, but actually the collection includes a proposal for a nonfiction book about Truman as well as three chapters of a novel.