June 5, 2010 by jessperriam
This isn’t a holiday.
Ok. Being in London and travelling to a bunch of cool places is a holiday for all intents and purposes. But it isn’t completely a holiday.
No siree, there’s no rest for the wicked, I have research to do.
For the past two days I have been bunkered down at the National Archives researching for an amazing story I want to tell.
But let me first give you one piece of timely advice:
Archives don’t work like Wikipedia or Google. You just can’t type in what you’re looking for and have it magically appear, fully formed before your very eyes.
Nope, you need to type in the general subject you’re interested in. Just like… Squadron 100 for example. Then that will pop up all the things they have on it, history, operation records and stuff. They then have a code attached to that “AIR1/2054/204/410/3” for another example.
You order that original document, as in the actual bits of paper in a folder from World War One. That takes about 40 minutes for an archivist to pull it out and pop it in the pigeonhole.
It all sounds a little boring, but there’s something kind of cool about opening a non-descript cardboard box and reading the story unfold before your eyes.
I’ve successfully found out more than I thought I would about what two dapper fly boys got up to during after World War One.
And the surprising thing is the archives are packed. Most of them I suspect are older people doing family research but there is an astounding number of young people busily researching.
Who said spending two days at the archives isn’t cool?