Browsing recently in a book titled, Discovering Washington: A Guide to State and Local History, by Petersen & Reed, 1989.
The intro to Section III was especially interesting to me and I share it with you here:
“History is everywhere. It is in the landscape; those who understand geography and know how to interpret land forms can discover much about a region’s past without ever opening a book. History is also found in the type of fence that a farmer built and the kinds of outbuildings he constructed. It is hidden in the architectural style of a family’s house. History can be learned by simply walking down mail street and observing the architecture of a community’s commercial district.
“Though history is all around us, eventually every researcher must discover where to find written records that describe the past. Every community—no matter how small—has rich resources awaiting those who take the time to uncover these treasures. Too often, researchers in local history examine only the guides to major archival and manuscript depositories. Failing to find what they want, they then abandon their quest, believing that further investigation would prove fruitless.
“Confining one’s research to major libraries and archives can be successful only if the work focuses on a major historic figure or on an event of national or regional significance. But for most writers of local istory, relying exclusively on document collections at university libraries or other major research centers will probably lead to a dead end. Local historians must be imaginative; they need to remember that most records relating to the lives of ordinary people are found near the places where they once lived.”
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