These Hatton Sumners materials provide a small supplement to the major collection of his papers housed at the Dallas Historical Society in the Hall of State in Fair Park. The papers, donated by Ben Guttery in the Summer of 2001, have been divided into four series: Correspondence, Personal, Photographs, and Kate Davis papers. While individually, they may seem insignificant, collectively, they provide insight into the private, family life of a public figure. Of special interest is the close relationship these letters show between Hatton, his sister Kate, and their mother.
The 114 letters in the Correspondence series between Hatton Sumners, his sister Kate, and his mother are largely handwritten. While the earliest letter is dated 1898 from Hatton to his parents, the bulk of the letters are from 1911 to 1926, the year Mother Hatton died. The letters document the routine daily events of an upper class southern household in correspondence with a family member who is a U.S. Congressman. There appears to have been an unusual bond between Hatton, his sister, and his mother as evidenced by the intimate greetings and salutations in these letters.
The Personal series represents a hodgepodge of items that Sumners saved. There are seventeen topical sub-series: articles, bank statements, biography, campaign card, check to Sam Rayburn, franking envelope, insurance policy , invitations to speak, itinerary, loan note, member Pass, postcards, Southwestern Legal Center, speeches, tax receipts, warranty deed, and will. While each of these contain only one or a few items, collectively, they add personal pieces to the larger biographical story.
These fifty photographs represent the Sumners family as well as significant events in Congressman Sumners' life. They include two early studio portraits taken before Sumners became a public figure, a couple of official congressional portraits, several special events photos, and numerous candid snapshots of relatives.
The majority of items in the Kate Sumners series are letters between Kate and Willis written shortly after their marriage in 1917 while Willis was on the road or while Kate was visiting her parents in Dallas between 1917 and 1919. Following the death of Kate's father, her mother moved to Georgia to live with her. The next large segment of correspondence includes sympathy cards and letters written to Kate following the death of Willis in November, 1963. In addition to letters, these papers contain the condolence pages from Willis' funeral, a lock of brown hair tied with red ribbon, letters dealing with the Legg family genealogy, 1894-1932, and Kate's class notes for Logic in 1905.