You never know in advance what you’ll find during archival research. Very often, you don’t know what other people are trying to find, too, until you ask them. For example: in 2011, I was awarded a research grant by the Hagley Library in Wilmington, DE. The Hagley is the largest independent business library and archive in the United States, but it would be erroneous to think that its holdings are all dull business ledgers and dry reports. Perusing the list of 35 fellowship and grant recipients for 2011 shows an incredible diversity in topics ranging from architectural decorations to filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille to the material culture of tea drinking to duct tape(!) in American social imagination. My own project about music making in corporation environments is the only one on music, but it’s far from the outlier: these projects are a collective testimony to the richness of archives.
A report presenting a small extract of my research will be published on the Hagley Library blog later this year.