Atlantic Monthly doesn't know where to put its old letters

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Truman Capote laments that the editors found it necessary to cut his story. The anthropologist Margaret Mead wonders what happened to the manuscript she sent from Bali. Robert Frost asks for someone to please insert a space between the words I and would in one of his poems.

The Atlantic Monthly -- venerable chronicle of the nation's politics, arts, and letters for 148 years -- is packing up and moving out of Boston to its parent company's offices in Washington, D.C., and, as in any big move, it's the odds and ends accumulated over the years that are proving the most vexing.

Thousands of manuscripts, letters, and notes are stuffed into gunmetal filing cabinets, buried in cardboard boxes, and lovingly displayed in black-and-gold frames in the hallways of the Atlantic's fifth-floor offices in a brick office building near Government Center.

Many of the papers may go to Washington, some will tour with Atlantic writers next year, and some might be donated to a museum or library in Boston to be preserved as part of the city's cultural heritage.

But no one at this pillar of intellectualism knows where to put all the correspondence of a century and a half.

There is not enough space to show the entire collection in one office, and no one has found the time to catalog each item properly.

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