The Research Librarian Speaks Out Again


The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah CraftsMy previous post was a small jab at Wikipedia – not a reliable source but it can be a good place to start.

Now I’ve started The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hanna Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The first 75 pages or so are Gates’ Introduction briefly describing the research he did to verify the manuscript. He believed the source of it that it really was a manuscript written by a female slave in the 1850’s. But he didn’t want to publish it without better authority. In order to do this he needed to search the ancestry databases available.

Here’s a quote from his Introduction. He was searching the records of slaves from the mid-1800’s.

Electronic indexes – on CD-ROM and on-line…can be enormous time-savers but can never replace examination of an actual document. Human error in the replication of such an enormous database as the U.S. federal censuses in inevitable.

There’s a lot available online. But not everything is – “can never replace examination of an actual document” – a reminder when we think we’ve exhausted our resources.

One Comment

  1. Comment by sunil:

    Hi, Found your site while googling for Benford’s timescape – I am just bowled over by your prodigious reading rate – both mysteries AND science fiction!

    Just a quibble – a quick check on your A rated books I have read. eg eg Asimov’s Cave of Steel, Airframe, etc seems to tell me you more or less like the same qualities that I do, so is it possible to filter your reviews by the rating you gave? Or do you want me to think of easy way for you to do that? I am definitely going to use your reviews as a way to see what “A” level mystery writers I don’t know about. 🙂

    And funny how you seem to find Susan Grafton too “gritty” – she seems pretty feminine and vulnerable to me – just that she masks it by packing a gun which she knows how to use. 🙂