January 10, 2005

Sheer pleasure in an archive

The last occasion I spent time in the Georgia State Archives was in 1991, when I was in the midst of dissertation research. I was there last week looking at a series of local school-district reports from the late 1930s through the 1960s that had detailed numbers on the age and grade of students, exactly what I need for my current research obsession. My experience over a few days was even more pleasurable than 14 years ago (when my dominant emotions were excitement and relief at finding my huge plunge into unknown archives). This time, I knew the materials were there.

In part, what was new was the building, now housing the archives close to the Atlanta airport (and the new Southeast National Archive and Records Administration building. They have a whole room of lockers for personal effects, computer bags, coats, etc., as well as a break room for lunch and snacks. But the extra bonus is the beeper system they have when you request original documents. Talk with staff, tell them the series and boxes, and they had you a disk that looks remarkably like the oversized beepers that restaurants give out to diners waiting for a table:

(sample picture and page, in case I'm not being clear—not an endorsement)

So I had two and a half days of luxuriating in state reports with the tables I needed and then enough time to scarf down selected years for Atlanta and five rural counties spread around Atlanta from the Sea Islands to the northern Georgia mountains. When I leave an archive as satisfied as I was Friday evening, I know I'm in the right career.

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Posted in Research on January 10, 2005 6:49 PM |