Playing in the archives…

Last night my class met in the archives and if you don’t understand what that means to me than you don’t know me at all. We were surrounded in every direction by books. Yellowed books. Add in the company I was with who most are just as geekified as me and it was my little slice of heaven.

Last night I was tasked with being discussion leader so I proposed many questions. But most of them seemed to have one common theme. My own personal struggle I am having making what feels like fun research feel more academic. I hear my instructor passionately defend it as academic and how she is really trying to pave the way for it’s respect. I feel myself agreeing and nodding my head. It is research. It is important. It can be scholarly. Who says fun doesn’t come into the equation?

Then I walk away and feel insecure. Maybe it is because I am a newbie grad and still a little wet behind the ears. I have been trained for many years with what scholarly research should look and feel like. This is very different. I know it has merit and validity and I just hope I am able to translate that merit beyond our classroom. As a graduate student everything has possibilities outside of a classroom. In research, we always try and dive in with motives beyond those four walls. This project is no different.

Once we were set free I felt like Julie Andrews in the hill scene of the Sound of Music. At first I didn’t know what direction to go and I hurriedly ran one direction only to excitedly run the other direction. I ran down aisle after aisle. I think I went down every aisle that exists in Allen County’s Public Library Genealogy Center. Who knew such a place existed? All the records of towns, cities and counties both nationally and internationally. It was so freaking awesome. And can I tell you how many times I saw the title, “Relatively Speaking…”? Once I settled down a little I saw a tall tower that existed that had helpful hints. Each paper had various regions and how to find that info in the library.

Quickly, I saw “How to trace your Czech/Slovic Anscestors” and “Czech Surnames” and both were so valuable. Both books gave me enough information to confirm what my families stories already told me. They start by offering up czech and slovic surnames. They tell you what regions they came from in the area and then the most awesome part….they tell you what region they immigrated to? The two various spelling possibilities for my family name immigrated to Kansas and to Cleveland. I have pretty much proved I am related to both. YEA!

As I sat on the floor with the books around me I eventually found my way to original official copies of my family in Brookfield, IL. It was freaking awesome! Unfortunately, just as I was digging in and proving things my hunger took over, the class was over and it was time to leave. I left with a promise of coming back this weekend to begin the real searching outside of a mouse and a screen. It is time.

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