Thursday, June 9, 2011

Looking on the Bright Side of an Archival Bust

So, I've now visited all of the archives in the small Blargistan city of L that have medieval documents, and I'm telling you, there is not a one that is useful to my project.

Not. One.

Most of L's medieval holdings are sparse. The diocesan archive at one point had mountains of documents dating back to the mid-12th century, but everything medieval and much else was destroyed in one of the wars that blew through here, and now their documents only go back to the mid-18th century. The other archives have the occasional register or bundle of parchments from my century, but I've got a project centered around a specific year, and there's almost nothing for that, other than a few documents of property sales or rentals (which might be fascinating for some projects, but not for mine).

I've spend a week here, and I've transcribed a total of three documents, all of them highly tangential to my project. But I had to do something, other than sitting here, wishing I'd spent the week in T. instead. Or even back in Blerg City.

So, what's the bright side?

  • Well, now I've looked at all the archives in L. I know what is and isn't here, for future projects. Tomorrow I'm going to look at the one particularly rich collection they have for the era I tend to work on. It doesn't have anything for this project, but I want to know about it.
  • The archivists have all been very nice and helpful.
  • The paper I presented on Monday went well.
  • I had to stay in a hotel, but it was inexpensive, and clean, and conveniently located.
  • I only booked six days, rather than the ten days I originally had planned.
  • There is a really good vegetarian restaurant in this town (in a country where it's hard to get a meat-free meal), and yesterday I had what may be the best salad I've ever eaten.
  • I visited the one main medieval attraction, and because this is an out-of-the-way town, and because it was a weekday, I had the whole place to myself for long stretches of time.
  • I've gotten to rest up a bit, to the point where I'm really, really eager to have some documents to dig into.

Please, please let there be documents for me to dig into.

One of the photos of the nearly-deserted medieval attraction I visited yesterday.


Anonymous said...

Good luck!

clio's disciple said...

Well, at least now you know, right? I'll have to remember that detail about the diocesan archive myself...

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Well, it's better than a red hot poker in the eye.

Anonymous said...

Gawd that sounds dispiriting. On the other hand it also sounds like a war story to tell once the project is long done. I find that most misfortunes are story material once told with detachment, it's a kind of comfort.