Mary Custis Lee's Two Trunks Full Of Memorabilia Tell Much About A Famous Father

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Two old steamer trunks sit in the rare-book room at the Virginia Historical Society, looking worn and forlorn. The smaller one was once red but the paint has faded to a dull rust. The larger one is brown with a piece of tin patching a hole in the top. On one side, a name is stenciled: "M. LEE."

That's Mary Custis Lee, Gen. Robert E. Lee's adventurous eldest daughter. In 1917, she stored these wooden trunks in the "silver vault" in the basement of Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust in Alexandria. A year later, she died at the age of 83. Her trunks sat in a dusty corner of the vault for 84 years, unclaimed, until E. Hunt Burke, the bank's vice chairman, discovered them in 2002....

A few weeks ago, [Lee Shepard, the Virginia Historical Society's senior archivist] opened the Mary Custis Lee papers to the public.

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