History books, PhD theses, historical societies, Wikipedia, Google — they all fill in some of the blanks in your research.
But I’ve got to say my new favorite source of historical material is something I’ll call Peoplepedia — and if you have what you think is a better name, let me know.
Google? Duck-duck-go into the passenger cargo, buddy.
Wikipedia? So freewheeling, do I believe ya’?
Libraries and historical societies? If only your doors were always open.
History books and PhD theses? Even you can take a back seat.
Nearing the end of a two-month tour of library speeches, I’m putting Peoplepedia at the top of my best-of source list.
Catch it now or catch up later, people.
We had a great crowd at the Camden (Maine) Public Library, the Fire Code moving some of the 100-plus folks into an adjoining room.
Very satisfying. But the best reward? Two in the audience were able to tell me about two “safe houses” for escaping slaves in Wiscasset, Maine, of which I was not aware.
A week later, at a full house in the Winslow (Maine) Public Library, two more folks came up with two more “safe houses” to add to my list. One was a Fred Eames’ dairy farm where we bought our first border collie, the daughter of the Welsh National Champion.
Then came the Patten Free Library in Bath and we hit the mother load.
First, one elder citizen of the town told us she had worn her grandfather’s Ku Klux Klan robe, complete with Maine’s Invisible Empire patch, to school for Show and Tell.
Then an African-American gentleman informed the audience that Bath Iron Works, one of Maine’s largest employers to this day, had brought in black workers from the South to break a strike at the shipbuilding facility. The new residents were housed across the river in a segregated part of the city.
What our history books do not tell us, our fellow citizens sometimes do. True, you can’t always trust word of mouth. Can’t trust your own memory sometimes.
But I think just as often you discover hidden truths of the past — truths never revealed in written materials.
As Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, known for his philosophical-moral aphorisms, said: “You can close your eyes to reality but not to memories.”
Peoplepedia. Gotta love it!
Oh, and thanks to our new friends and wonderful library staffers in Camden, Winslow, Pittsfield, Boothbay Harbor, Belgrade Lakes and Bath.