I noticed today that it’s been almost three weeks since my first post. I’ve received one comment on that one, from one of my sons–thanks, Jim!
Since that first post (and for a month or so prior to it, for that matter), I’ve been working pretty steadily on my research, concentrating on reading and taking notes on antebellum Georgia newspapers. I did some of this last summer, traveling two or three times a week to the Georgia Archives in Morrow, Ga., south of the airport. So far this spring/summer, though, I’ve been able to conduct my newspaper research online, using the “Media” section of the “Digital Library of Georgia” (DLG), which is part of the marvelous “Galileo” website hosted by the University of Georgia for the state of Georgia. [http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/Topics/Media.html]
When I first learned of the “Galileo” site a few years ago, the DLG had a small section on “Georgia historic newspapers,” one of them the Cherokee Phoenix, which I wanted to read as part of my research into the career of Elias Boudinot, the paper’s founding editor. Next, I think, came a very long run of an important Union Party paper in Macon, the Macon Telegraph, and, even more recently, the DLG added a section on the major newspapers (e.g., Federal Union, Georgia Journal, Southern Recorder) in Milledgeville, the state’s antebellum capital, as well as a separate file on an interesting State Rights Party publication, the Columbus Enquirer. Finally, within the past few months, the DLG added another large file, this one featuring major papers in Atlanta from 1857 through 1922. (Unfortunately, Atlanta was not even a gleam in the founders’ eyes during the period I’m currently working in.) The digitizing process works pretty well with most of the issues of most of the papers, but the exceptions can be frustrating. Still, as much as I might grumble over pages that are too dark to read (a real problem with the first page of the Columbus Enquirer until the latter part of 1840), I’m not about to complain, considering how much time and money having these fine resources available via the Internet is saving me.
Currently, I’m in pursuit of the “smoking gun” (“holy grail”?) of my project, and it looks like I’m going to find it–sort of. I don’t want to go into any detail right now, but, suffice it to say, I adopted a research strategy at the beginning of the summer for covering the state press after 1837 (the original concluding date for this project) that seems to be bearing fruit, though not in the sense of fireworks going off before my eyes or mental cannons booming when I run across one particular news item or editorial that “answers” the major question I’ve set for myself. It’s more like, OK, this is happening over a long period of time, and gradually, so you’re going to have to make do with what you’ve found, not what you hoped to find.
Another source of frustration is my Internet connection, or lack of same. I have a year-old HP desktop in the “computer room” at our home that both of us use and a three-month old Toshiba laptop that is dedicated to the project. A friend set up a wireless router for me, creating a mini-network, when I brought the Toshiba home, and it worked fine until a couple of weeks ago. I could not establish the Internet connection, and, after doing all the usual trouble-shooting maneuvers I knew, I called the cable company. At the end of that session, the help desk had suggested that the router was defective, and indeed, when I disconnected it, I was able to restore the Internet connection. Thing was, though, that I only disconnected the router’s ethernet cord from the computer, not the router itself, and, probably as a result, I continued to have periodic outages. So, when it happened this morning, I unplugged the rest of the router, the Internet connection returned, and here I am. Trouble is, though, that I had gotten pretty fond of being able to access the Internet using the laptop, thanks to the “network” established by the router, and now I can’t do that, so I’ve got to see what else I can find out about having the desktop and the laptop share the Internet connection provided by my cable company. Maybe a more reliable router, or some other gadget?
So, provided that I can maintain a regular Internet connection over the next few weeks, I might actually be able to put the cap on my newspaper research, or most of it at any rate. I still will need to visit the Georgia Archives to review two Milledgeville newspaper that are not yet in the DGL (the Statesman and its successor, the Statesman & Patriot, both organs of John Clark), the Savannah papers I’ve not yet seen, and a few years of the State Rights Party sheet in Macon, the Macon Messenger, as well as to use the legislative records for the period after 1837.
For those interested in reading more about Georgia History, here are links to my books on the subject:
Politics on the Periphery: Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783-1806 (University of Delaware Press, 1986)