Friday, September 16, 2011

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The first entry on this blog showcased the report card of a student named Marie Garaventa. What you see above is Marie's daughter, Doretta LaPorta, holding that report card -- a tangible link to her mother's life.

As I've explained before, the principal research challenge of Permanent Record has been the fact that Manhattan Trade was a girls' school, so most of the students got married and changed their names, making it very difficult to track them. Over the past two years, I've made contact with fewer than 20 families. Some of them opted not to speak with me; others were happy to talk but live far away, so I had to interview them by phone; and then there were those, like Doretta, who I was able to meet in person.

At some point in the process I got in the habit of having these people pose with their loved ones' report cards. I wish I'd done it from the beginning -- there were a few who I missed and haven't had a chance to revisit. The ones who I did photograph are shown here:

All of these people will be profiled in the Permanent Record series on, which will kick off on Monday. I'll keep posting a few items here on the blog, but for the most part I'll let the series speak for itself next week. Thanks for reading.

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Special Event: Next Saturday, Sept. 24, I'll be hosting a small Permanent Record gathering. Attendees will include some of the family members I've interviewed, some researchers who've assisted me during the project, some people from Slate, and so on. We have room for a few more people, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to have some readers on hand. If you'd like to attend, get in touch and I'll give you the details.


  1. Great story, Paul. Have any of the loved ones requested to have the report cards? If so, do you comply?

  2. The explanation of what will happen to the cards can be found here: