Friday, November 23, 2012

Unfortunate Titles and the Value of Browsing

Strolling along an aisle of physical books in an actual library is a really retro thing to do. But given the imperfections of book production and storage, it's also a useful activity. I once discovered a whole set of marriage abstracts because I came across a book with an unpromisingly general title on the spine: "Marriages 1834-1855."

Because I came across it in the right part of the library, where my target location was, I pulled it out, and discovered what it was, and later found additional books in the series. These were obituaries and marriage notices in a place and time where newspapers were terse and vital records non-existent, abstracted from a denominational newspaper that shut down eighty years ago.

"You never know until you look." And you haven't looked until you've tried both the retro and the up-to-date forms of looking. 

Harold Henderson, "Unfortunate Titles and the Value of Browsing," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 23 November 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


smj said...

Harold: Let me guess. Christian Advocate? Pittsburgh?

Harold said...

Western Pennsylvania, yes.