Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG - Better Late Than Never

It looks like I almost completely missed today's Insecure Writer's Support Group.  I am out of town in a land of bad internet connectivity.



I spent my morning in the archive room of the Scott County Historical Society in Huntsville, Tennessee. I found some very interesting facts, but mostly it was super overwhelming being surrounded by a billion records and not knowing where to start.

My daughter is with me, and we spent the afternoon in Knoxville at the East Tennessee Historical Society in the special collections room. All I have to say is they were super rude and treated us like we were going to steal their records and books.

There weren't many people there despite the fact the place was enormous and had so much information. It's really too bad, because they had lots of information there. They made us lock up our belongings on the way in, let us know there are papers and pencils available at each table, and only on our way out told us we could have made copies despite the fact there are signs everywhere forbidding the copying of documents. Why even have books and records there to share if you don't actually share them? Very annoying.

We just returned from walking the family cemetery, which is coincidentally less than a mile from our hotel. We found the headstone of my grandmother's sister, who died when she was a toddler after she fell into a tub of lye when her mom was doing the laundry. So sad. She was buried near her grandparents. The flowers next to her grave were knocked over, so we fixed them up for her.

I don't really have any writing insecurities to share except that it is quite difficult to do research for historical fiction. Despite the difficulty, it has been a fun trip, and we've found some cool things unexpectedly, like this sign near the river where my ancestors used to hang out:



I'll do my best to check in on the other IWSG posts this weekend when I have a better connection.

29 comments:

  1. Hard to do it when they are so strict with the information. Why do they think people are there?
    A vat of lye - that is really sad.

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    1. My grandma and her sisters had to have felt responsible for that their whole lives. The story is she was running around the house - presumably playing with her siblings. I can't imagine how horrible that was.

      Everyone here in general has been fabulous, especially the Scott County Historical Society and the woman at the ATV campsite (we accidentally came upon it) that gave us directions to the river with the "baptizing" sign. East Tennessee Historical Society was the worst and they hold all of the records. Gah.

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  2. I love history, but I haven't ever thought about tackling a historical novel. Good luck with your research.

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    1. Compared to other fiction, it's more time-consuming, but I like it.

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  3. Despite the unusual territory and peep's being rude, sounds like you're having some fun.

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    1. Definitely. I had some great bonding time with my teen. She took some fabulous pictures.

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  4. That's the best, though. I love researching. That's where the story is often buried -- in all those little interesting details you find out that you didn't know before. Cool that you got to take a road trip for research. But, wow, what a horrible way for a child to die. Gosh.

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    1. We found a picture of the boarding house where my mother's great-grandmother probably worked when she was a little girl (that's right).

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  5. Sorry the people were so rude. But at least you got to visit with your ancestors. I know nothing about my family history. Good luck with the research. I know you are going to do a great job.

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  6. Why are people rude, there's really no need for it. Visiting from the IWSG, glad you've got no insecurities atm :)
    Suzanne @ Suzannes-Tribe
    x

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    1. My teen wanted to be there with me to do the research. In the summer. Instead of being anywhere else. You'd think they'd be thrilled we were there.

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  7. So sorry you had such an unfortunate experience while you were trying to do research. Maybe other people have had similar problems and that's why people don't like going there. At least you're feeling comfortable with your doubts this month. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

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  8. Yikes, what kind of historical society collects information and then doesn't like letting people see it? But it does explain why the place was empty.

    And what a sad story about your grandmother's sister -- and a terrible way to die. :(

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    1. All of the books I read through were obviously never opened. What a waste.

      As for the great-aunt, I can't imagine how that was for my grandmother and her sisters. I assume they were there and felt responsible for the accident. Terrible.

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  9. Ugh that does sound like an annoying experience. Similar to a library that wouldn't let me take out books for no reason.

    So yeah, I feel your pain.

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    1. The guy had the nerve to give me a brochure with the web site so I can browse the catalog from home (but the catalog is only available to Tennessee residents -- which is why I drove that far to get there).

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  10. You were in my town. Now, that's interesting. That's too bad you had such a poor experience looking up family archives. That must be totally fascinating work. What a tragedy for your grandmother's sister. My daddy's baby brother died of alcohol poisoning. I don't know the whole story other than my uncle was around 2-years of age and he drank something, more than likely Moonshine, which killed him. Parents didn't think or know to be extra careful with small ones around. Maybe this is why so many of us (or is this just me?) are neurotic about keeping our kids from harm. :D

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    1. It's not just you. I think the mentality was that it was better to let kids learn things the hard way. I'm sure no one expected the worst. Alcohol poisoning for a baby sounds horrible.

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  11. I was just talking about historical fiction in an interview in the latest issue of Indie Writers Monthly.
    I don't feel up to historical fiction, yet, but I hope one day to be.

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    1. It requires an overwhelming amount of persistence, that's for sure. Today, I've been obsessing over figuring out how Appalachian marriages were performed in 1932.

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  12. I love hearing how other people do research for their writing and what they turn up. Love that sign!

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  13. I didn't even know there was a Huntsville, Tennessee...and I've lived in Nashville my whole life! There are probably all kinds of small towns I've never heard of. So sorry you received rude treatment in Knoxville. I found when I was visiting libraries to introduce myself as a writer, some librarians were really nice and warm and some obviously were just there to earn a paycheck. Sad. You'd hope they'd have a love for books/research to be in that job...

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    1. Huntsville is the county seat of Scott County. I expected it to be much larger. It was actually smaller than Oneida, which was small.

      I didn't have the impression anything was going to make a difference to the guy working the front desk. Maybe he was an ex-cop and thought his job was security. I can't imagine who would steal a book from that library - it was all history. Nothing but history. Is there a black market for history books??!

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  14. Historicals are a challenge, but touching old documents and looking through archives might be kind of fun. Not necessarily in every library as you found out. :)

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  15. what a great way to research, lovely and informative visit!
    and that's an awesome sign!

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  16. That's a shame that they give you access, but then they don't want you even make a copy. Jeez!

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