Adventures in Learning
The syllabus is available for download and printing, but new resources will be added to the online version as the course proceeds.
The syllabus for Detritus and Ephemera in New London's Archives, offered Fall 2022, appears below. This course meets weekly on Tuesday mornings from September 20 to October 25, with no class on October 18. Enrollment is limited to 35 students.
This course is designed to provide a basic understanding of archival materials and research practices, and to provide insights into local history as it has been collected, preserved, and interpreted at the New London Town Archives.
Classes will meet for up to 2 hours (9:30 to 11:30 AM), depending on the weekly topic and level of discussion.
Each class will include: (1) an introductory lecture on the history and archival requirements of that week’s material type; (2) an overview of its significance and representation in local archival collections; and (3) examples of research into facets of local history gathered from the week’s materials.
For your future study or entertainment, the syllabus includes books somehow related to each topic. Most are recently published and readily available at your local library (or inter-library loan). Free online resources are also noted and linked in the weekly class descriptions below.
SEP 20 — Imposing order
Overview of archival collections. Role of history committees and the public library in establishing New London’s Town Archives. Review of organizing principles and collections policy governing acquisitions.
Doing History podcast entitled "How Archives Work" — interview with Peter Drummey of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
An example of a recent acquisition by the Town Archives, this 1810 letter addressed to Job Seamans, Jr. in New London is ostensibly about Freemasonry business, but it also illustrates the state of money and banking in New England at the time.
SEP 27 — keeping count
Purposes and evolution of record keeping from ancient times to the present. A look at early town and church records and their content. A history of the town report.
This Past & Present article entitled "The Social History of the Archives" discusses the role of archives in historical research and early record-keeping in Europe.
OCT 4 — real property
Grants and proprietorships in New Hampshire. Settlement patterns, subdivision & development. Oddities among the deeds. Taxation of property.
Search for deeds in Merrimack County. Searching is free but retrieval of the actual scanned deeds is paid (and expensive).
OCT 11 — family matters
Personal writing as a source of historical information. Difficulties of interpretation. Archival challenges posed by mixed media, albums and scrap books.
Learn how to conduct an oral history interview with this free guidebook from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
OCT 25 — Capturing light
History of photography, stereography, lantern slides. A look at the visual record of New London and early professional photographers. Postcards and tourism.
Brief video demonstrations of a dozen different methods used in the history of photography produced by the George Eastman Museum.