Gordon Battelle's close-up

Kathy Lynn Gray
14-year-old Gordon Battelle

The world's largest independent research organization knows a little bit more about its founder thanks to Anne Dowden Mazzella.

In October, the Louisville resident called Battelle out of the blue and claimed to be a relative of Gordon Battelle, whose $1.5 million bequest created the Columbus nonprofit following his 1923 death.

While cleaning out her mother's home on the far east side of Columbus last year, Mazzella—the great-great granddaughter of Gordon Battelle's aunt—found a trunk in the attic filled with memorabilia more than a century old. Much of it was from the Battelle branch of her family. And she wanted the company to have it.

“Some of the photos we'd never seen before,” says Kelly Ward, Battelle's manager of customer experience. Three photos of Gordon Battelle especially charmed her. In one, Gordon is an infant, held by his mother, Annie; in the second he is a 6-year-old in a ruffled collar. In the third he is 14, dressed to the nines in a suit coat, high collar and hat. Also in the trunk was a large leather ledger with “Private Office of Gordon Battelle” stamped on the cover.

Copies of the photographs will be displayed with Battelle's other family memorabilia, Ward says.

Mazzella's donation prompted another find. Battelle emergency manager Ryan Cunningham took a close look at Gordon Battelle's original desk—on display at the nonprofit's headquarters—and found, wedged behind the center drawer, an 1889 booklet detailing the family's genealogy, apparently overlooked for decades.