Sunday, April 4, 2010

From the Cemetery of Forgotten Projects

So, I'm technically here to work on Nifty Title Project. But I'm also poking at the corners of Shiny New Project, because it's going to take a bit of doing, in dribs and drabs. Specifially, the corner that I'm poking at is something that I reluctantly committed to giving a paper on at Kalamazoo. Why? Guilt over a ball I dropped. But that's another story. The paper is supposed to be about members of a particular profession – let's call them widgeteers – who play a small but important role in Shiny New Project. There's already a body of literature on widgeteers. But as I was browsing through the notarial archives for documents on local widgeteers during the period I work on, I came across half a dozen wills for widgeteers' wives. And so I decided that that would be my paper.

So, when I get bored with or despair about Nifty Title Project, I turn to poke the lives of widgeteers and their wives. And this weekend, for the first time, I started transcribing a the wives' wills.

And do you know what I found?

A link to Project Impossible.

Project Impossible is, as the name implies, something that I once thought would make a really neat book (with a really cool title, too). It's a study of a particular Interesting Instution. Unfortunately, although it's known that Interesting Institution was founded in the late medieval century I work on, almost all of the known references to the insitution involved are from the Early Modern era. So I remained interested, but dropped it.

And then, lo and behold, Thursday I find a reference in a secondary source to the fact that the widgeteers' guild had been the ones who agitated for Key Institution to be built.

And yesterday, as I was transcribing the first testament, I find that this widgeteer's wife has left substantial sums of money to Interesting Institution.

No, I'm not going to drop both Nifty Title Project and Shiny New Project to go on a snipe hunt. But I am going to reopen my Project Impossible file, and start adding to it.

6 comments:

Comrade PhysioProf said...

That sounds fucking fascinating! I'd totally read a book about the widgeteers, their wives, and the founding of the key institution!

Get cracking!

Susan said...

So now you know why I talked about false starts! That's neat!

Digger said...

Yay for serindipity!

Medieval History Geek said...

(evil grin)For a minute I was sure your Interesting Institution was The Priory of Sion!

Sorry - I read William Manchester over the weekend. I'm a veritable font of misinformation.

Good Enough Woman said...

I, too, am curious about the widgeteers' wives' wills!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Susan, you are definitely right. The danger here is poking at too many projects and not finishing any of them. But right now, I'm collecting, and building files.

Project Mneyh is, however, officially dead. So I'm not keeping them *all.*