Hi! I feel like I haven’t posted in FOREVER! How are you? Have you lost weight? What’s gonna be your song of the summer? I don’t even know, because I’ve been trapped in the archive since March!
If you follow me on instagram or FB, you’ve probably seen me snapping loads of pictures from various places, but I’m here to spill the tea on archive living!
Unlike my poor friends who study in Europe, getting into an American archive is pretty easy. You tell them what you’re researching and they have you fill out a few forms, give you a card, and BINGO, you’re in! My trip started in New York, where I never seem to dress appropriately for the weather, and always end up sick. I was there on and off for 3 weeks worth of research.
New York was great, and almost everyone was lovely and super helpful except for the Frick. What’s your deal? Don’t believe them when they tell you that you don’t need to reserve materials because no one ever uses them. That is a straight up fib. But you know what? The Historical Society and the Public Library people were a delight! I wonder if they get many visitors?
Another thing that’s good to know, especially as I spent weeks in front of the machines at BUT and the BPL was that microfilm technology has really improved! It’s all digital and you can just email info to yourself! REMARKABLE! Now someone just needs to invent a search function that can decipher handwriting.
Washington DC was another great place to do research and I spent a week there. You feel so important walking into the Library of Congress! And the process to get a library card is hard core! Yet, I didn’t get to go to the cool library. All of my stuff was in the “new library” that looks like a high school media center. We can’t win them all, I suppose.
For the month of June, I will be spending my time at the American Antiquarian Society in scenic Worcester, MA! I’ve worked here before, and everyone is really nice, so I’m looking forward to it. Best part: they’re paying me for the month! It’s a mid-summer miracle!
So…my advice for archival living:
- Bring a sweater. You will freeze after about 30 minutes.
- Tell people what you’re working on! So many people dug up random things for me because they thought it would be helpful and most of the time it was!
- Always email in advance and tell them what you’re looking for. Be nicely insistent that they pull it for you.
- Keep a snack in your bag. Museums have restaurants and that french fry smell is intoxicating when all you’re trying to do is read about a Christmas celebration at an artists’ club.
With these handy tips, you’ll be living like a grad student (taking the bus, crashing on couches, looking annoyed at the tourists who won’t get out of your way so you can work) in no time!