Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Random historical things

Last night was the first meeting for the year of the historical society. We generally managed to contain our enthusiasm and not finish too late. One of the main topics of conversation was Marburg’s participation in the Tidy Towns competition. As one of the more active organizations in the town, everyone at this meeting had ideas for things that could be done in the contemporary setting. A little off the topic of things historical but very engrossing for all.

One of the more pressing issues was that of people contacting the organisation and asking for historical information. Usually the letters are handwritten pleas for assistance. Members are keen to help but time is limited and many of the requests are such that hours can be taken up in finding the necessary information – “I think my great-grandmother is buried somewhere in the Rosewood Scrub…” Marburg featured in an episode of “The Great Southeast” last year and that generated quite a lot of interest. Curiously the recent rerun of the segment generated even more letters than the first. The president does a wonderful job responding to these requests. I think that I am a bit more hardline – I would tell people what information is available and invite them to visit and examine the material themselves. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it is hard for people with jobs, or even people like myself to give a lot of time to these requests.

Perhaps better than some, I know how time-consuming historical research can be. Even with online resources and knowing exactly what is in a collection, the actual tracking down and reading of material can vacuum up vast swathes of time. That is the frustration and the pleasure of historical research. For myself, I picked up a handful of books on the German Marburg and Hesse in general to fill out some background. I am less interested in the text than in the photographs of places and people so that I can fill in some descriptions. I am determined to get back to writing, if only to take my mind off the continuing rain and associated building concerns.

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