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He's From Missouri

July 19, 1992

In Letters of June 28, Philip Therou takes you and your copy editor to task for adding a period after the S in Harry S. (or S) Truman.

Mr. Therou is right and wrong, but mainly wrong.

According to author William Hillman, who wrote "Mr. President" in 1952 with Mr. Truman's approval, his birth certificate was recorded as Harry S. Truman.

Mr. Truman was supposed to be named Harrison Shippe Truman, taking the middle name from his paternal grandfather. By family compromise his first name was shortened to Harry. Others in the family wanted his middle name to be Solomon, taken from his maternal grandfather. No agreement could be reached, so the name was Harry S. Truman to please all.

Through my duties at the NBC network, I was able to meet Mr. Truman, then President Truman. I had an instant "in" since I was from Kansas City, Mo., and Mr. Truman knew some of my relatives.

I received a number of letters from him, and up to the early '60s his stationery was printed with a period after the S. After 1967, his stationery did not have the period. He may have been having fun with history.

(When Mr. Truman signed his name he did not use a period after the S, but it could have been a simple matter of expediency.)



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