The Brock Collection at Pepperdine University

The history of Pepperdine University is undoubtedly incomplete without the existence of influential figures like George Pepperdine or Howard A. White. These individuals, with their names attached to the legacy of the university, helped shape a Pepperdine culture that places emphasis on faith and service. Most students are familiar with George Pepperdine; however, few know the name Margaret Brock. Though they may be familiar with the Brock House, most students are unaware of the Brock Conference Room at the Pepperdine School of Law or the Brock Scholarship awarded to law students each year. Most students have never been acquainted with the legacy of a woman that was instrumental in the shaping of Pepperdine as a university. It is through the creation and preservation of the collection that the university hopes to reintroduce Pepperdine’s community to the woman dubbed Mrs. California Republican. The Margaret Brock Collection will be a digitized archive of Margaret Brock’s correspondences, personal notes, and material belongings that have survived over the years. This collection aims to preserve the legacy of Margaret Martin Brock through the items she left behind which have been organized and digitized by Pepperdine’s Special Collections and University Archives staff in collaboration with Digital Humanities students. This project is set to be completed over the course of six years and will include the efforts of countless undergraduate students.

The Margaret Brock letters were recently found in files in the Brock Conference room located at Pepperdine’s School of Law. The documents consist of both her incoming and outgoing letters with political figures, often United States presidents. The letters demonstrate the respect that these presidents had for Margaret Brock. They are cordial and brief, refraining from unnecessary details and superfluous vernacular. Along with the letters, the archivists found grocery lists, daily schedules, fashion accessories, and photographs. It is important that these articles be digitized in order for information about Margaret Brock to be accessible to the general public, and so the legacy of a woman very special to Pepperdine University can live on. In addition, if anything were to ever happen to the originals, digitized copies would still exist. Hence, digitization is the means for making important historical items known to a greater number of people, which is the hope for her collection.

The letters are all stored in specialized transparent sleeves, which is a preventative effort to keep the paper items from deteriorating. The collection includes around seventy boxes, holding numerous files attributed to Margaret Brock, which all are kept in temperature controlled rooms that are intended to slow the rate of acid deterioration on paper. Since many of the elements in the collection are at least in good condition, the archivists focus on preventing damage rather than trying to mend pieces together. All of the Brock letters are organized in chronological order and by category. For example, all of the letters to and from President Eisenhower are all kept in the same folder.

In the process of transcribing these letters from the original document, the person transcribing must focus on the words themselves and not on mimicking the layout of the originals. All of the original grammar and spelling is kept consistent with the original letters. Corrections to the letters, even grammatically, would change the text itself. Hence, the letters are unedited snippets of what life was like for Margaret Brock. Her affiliations with influential political figures help paint a picture of who she was for the collection. In the curation of the Margaret Brock collection, the university archives are able to learn little by little about the life of Margaret Brock so that they can shortly become experts with primary document experience. Overall, the most significant part of the Margaret Brock collection will be the lasting and well-deserved legacy that it leaves on the life of Mrs. Margaret Martin Brock.