A university professor who used the Albert Gore Research Center at MTSU to get to know his late mother was the guest on a recent edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.
Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Joseph Harrington, an English professor at the University of Kansas, first aired July 11 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org. You can listen to their conversation above.
In the early 2000s, Harrington came to Tennessee to dig into the Gore Center’s archives for information on Elizabeth “Lib” Peoples Harrington, a Dyersburg, Tennessee, native who served as Sen. Albert Gore Sr.’s personal secretary for about seven years. She left the office when she married but returned briefly to work for Gore in 1965-66 when he opened a Memphis office to serve constituents.
Joseph Harrington was only 12 years old when his mother died of breast cancer in 1974. He transformed his research and his childhood memories into a combination biography and elegy, “Things Come On.”
The professor said he used everything from his mother’s medical charts to her official correspondence as a politician’s aide as inspiration. The tone of “Things Come On” mirrors how young Joseph perceived life during his mother’s illness through the lens of the Watergate scandal, which paralleled the illness’s duration.
“Those two events are just bound up together for me — this strange and kind of confusing and threatening public … catastrophe and the private disaster that was going on at the same time,” said Harrington.
Elizabeth Peoples Harrington died on Aug. 8, 1974, the same day Richard Nixon resigned as U.S. president.
To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.
For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.
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