Among the Phoebe Beach Archive are the notes and writings of her late husband Arnold Bitner, who wrote a biography of Donn published in 2007. Those notes are interesting and help flesh out the story. Arnold was able to interview people who knew Donn. He has lots of notes from Joseph Terrillo who was Donn’s interpreter during World War II. Joseph passed away a bit ago.
I wanted to see the material Arnold used as his source before I wrote my biography. If you’ve read Arnold’s biography you know a good bit of it reads like a journal. It is stories written by Donn himself, not from the point of view of a narrator. So I was very pleased to find notepads of Donn’s own hand written biography in the archive.
The downside is, well, his handwriting. Luckily Arnold has transcribed some of these writings into typed documents. I do not know if they are all transcribed. That will take more digging through the archive and putting things together. It is fairly scattered across three or four bins right now. I am just getting to the documents in the first bin now. I have scanned the photos already. The massive piles of documents will come next.
I wanted to go ahead and share this with you so you can take the journey with me a little bit. I am also perhaps going to need the services of someone who is adept at reading handwriting like this should it be necessary to transcribe these notes. Any volunteers, please contact me.
Send your transcription credentials to firstname.lastname@example.org if you dare…