Enter your keyword

Exciting historic research

Exciting historic research


What do you think of when you get into a slump…. I bet I know, overwhelming feelings of dread, followed by the resignation that you will have to research more historic sites… maybe someday. I doubt if you think of it as exciting, but in its own way its a little like treasure hunting. Today here its 34 degrees and rain. That would not stop me from going hunting but the wind is out of the wrong direction too. I made the trip to the library thinking that they don’t have a thing that I haven’t read but I learned something today. Forget the books and maps for a while and ask around the library for the person in charge or the oldest person who has worked there the longest.

The problem is this; we do not know if resources are available or not and many libraries just don’t take the time to inform you. If you can sit down with the librarian and tell them your problem. Explain that you don’t know what to ask for and explain what types of things that you want information on you may have someone who can help and maybe not. I used to look at the historic books on the state and small towns and sometimes I would look through the reference section for information. We live in a time “in between” sort of like the folks in the 1940’s where the roads were not yet improved and travel and TV had not yet come into its own. They were sort of stuck in between yesterday and tomorrow and groping beyond the darkness for their future. They thought of themselves as we do as though we have the future in our hands. We think of ourselves as almost living in the future where science fiction has almost become science fact while we forget that in reality our lives and the things around us are lagging behind the things we hear about.

The technology exists today at a incredibly low price to be able to scan in all of our historic information that is stored in county libraries and older larger colleges. I heard recently about an old unpainted wood frame building about 15 miles from me burning down one night that contained literally tons of historic information on the local areas around here. While all the time we brag about the cutting edge of new technology and breaking through into the 21st century we still continue to this day to stockpile historic documents in poor buildings and justify no one and no money to just go to the small trouble and expense to simply scan these documents and pictures into digital information. Cutting edge indeed!! History will record us as simple folks who just didn’t know what to do with the new tools we were presented with. Sorry if this seems a little harsh but it seems that everyone wants to be in the future instead of here and now to improve our world around us and if this article doesn’t do anything else I hope it makes some few folks aware of the problem. After we are all dead and gone then what few documents and pictures still remain will be available for anyone who wishes to search for any event, name, or location to find out ANY information in the large historic databases in a second or two. They will be the ones to discover what we have been sitting on and have unlimited places to treasure hunt.

Sorry about the digression because what I really wanted to tell you about today is you will have to find someone knowledgeable that is a “historic database” on feet instead of on computer. For instance I have been going to our library like many of you looking at treasure hunting books and the historic books on little towns that I could find and all the while I walked by a shadowy hall that had a locked door to historic information and didn’t know it. The computer search in the library didn’t tell me that it was there and I thought it was an office for library personnel. Unfortunately for me the old “databases on feet” were all gone now and replaced with glassy eyed younger folk who just stared at me when I asked for information.

My constant nagging enquiry’s did enable me to discover that all the really good historic information in not at this library at all! Instead it is to be found at the “very old” county library where you will probably have to look for a “database on feet” to lead you down the dusty old corridor into a basement room with cobwebs and water stains around the ceiling. This kind of information will never be available where it should be until someone points out the real treasures lie in the richness of our historic documents and pictures. Also they are hidden away at the older Universities where you cannot check them out. Many if not most of these libraries will allow you to view them and it will be worth our while as we sit by the fireside and despair to make the trips that will grow in excitement as we realize what was laying there all the time!

On the bright side I did discover that the old room contained old newspapers and a book with pictures from 1911 about an old electric railroad that I like to read about. While horses and mules still pulled freight to town this railroad train zipped along at 80 MPH! The book had crystal clear pictures, advertising from 1911, and old train stops and schedules to towns that no longer exist and towns that I never even heard of! Exciting, yes, and I simply could not believe that these clear pictures were still available with such a wealth of information about this area. It would have been nice if I could sit at my computer and request from the historic database “electric railroads” “Texas” and had it displayed on my computer screen in high resolution where I could make color copies of anything that I wanted from the comfort of my fireside chair. Please do something…. write or email the libraries, universities, and send email your state representatives to fund the restoration of the historic data to digital storage. If we all do something we may just start the wheels moving and have done our own part for a better future.

How folks complained about the book burnings in Europe and mourn over the lost volumes in the ancient libraries of Greece and Egypt. All the while solemnly viewing the current day, the information on the internet, and readily accept its pornography and vehement articles against the most precious things we value while the dust of decaying historic records darken the skies. If we don’t learn from our mistakes then we are condemned to repeat them. What will people say about what we valued?


For those who can’t get out of the house then get a large cup of coffee and take the armchair tour:
The Rare Map Collection at the Hargrett Library in Georgia, 800 historic maps over 500 years span

Click on the mug of coffee

No Comments

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Enjoy this article? Please spread the word :)