savinghistory

Where will we keep our clues?

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2014 at 1:46 PM

letters on england print book

 

Where will we keep our clues?

I am currently researching the impact the 18th century book publishing industry had on Enlightenment ideals. You can read some of that work here: 18th Century Book Sellers and Promoters. In the research I’ve discovered that books were quite a growing industry at the time; little wonder with Enlightenment ideals spreading and the ability to print becoming faster and less expensive. When looking at how specific ideas were spread, historians generally look to the written works and period advertising; in essence what was being promoted and how did publication numbers react. One interesting place researchers found incredible clues were in the actual books themselves. Not the content but rather the book owners own notations. Hand written comments and musings scribbled in the margins very often shed insights into what readers were influenced by and how it made them feel. For me, those little tidbits are invaluable; becoming in fact primary sources in themselves. We all have our own books, some gathering dust on shelves, others packed away in boxes, and still others on nightstands and tables. Some we have read and re-read and within them are our own musings and handwritten notes in the margins. They hold our thoughts on the written word, what it meant to us, how it has inspired or challenged us; all becoming a tiny embellishment to our own story.

letters on england kindle version

Though physical books are still published and libraries still exist we cannot deny their numbers are not what they used to be. Today a good percentage of our written word is digital. Kindle, Nook, e-Readers, and audio files have brought the written word into a whole new dimension and to a much broader audience. These are wonderful times but I am left to wonder where will we keep our clues? Where will we jot down our thoughts and musings about a passage or phrase? We can annotate in e-books and add our notes to a file but where will those e-books be after we are gone? What digital traces will remain to embellish my story when I am no longer here to tell it? It is something to think about and as more and more of our lives become digital; it is something we may want to plan for. Remember, you should be Saving History…because your story is priceless.

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