Having recently been dealing with real and very old documents, materials that span for three hundred of local history, I have gained new appreciation for dealing with ‘the real thing’, the stuff that only historians and archivist touch- real life history. I now see how rewarding and beneficial such thing can be for one’s learning- not only reading what somebody found, but doing some exploring on your own. But not all can be as lucky as me. Sometimes there just aren’t any opportunities to access the original documents, be it because the access is restricted or because there is no way of making them available to public without the materials becoming damaged. So what would be the solution? Enter the ‘Turnpike Pack’. It is an old teaching aid that somehow found its way into Marjon’s archives. What it contains is reproductions of real documents and other materials concerning the subject of travel and transport in the years 1750-1850. Inside there are posters advertising coach travel, timetables and timesheets of real coaches traveling their routes and pictures of scenes showing the realities of coach travel. While this is not a substitute for the real thing, it gives a unique opportunity to learn and draw conclusions from unprocessed data that could be gained from a real historical document. But then, why bother with the real thing in the age of electronic information where any document can be digitized and accessed almost anywhere? Two reasons: not all documents can be digitized, some would not survive the process and the sheer volume of what is already traditionally preserved would make digitization the task for ages. The second reason is an example- holding and reading a diary of a man 200 years dead feels incredible. It feels like a superpower- ignoring time and looking straight into the past.
Monthly Archives: July 2018