‘He existed once you know?’
Janet turned from her monitor, squinted into the gloom.
‘Who now?’ she asked. The hands on the wall clock glowed faintly. Half-seven, closing time was long past and James was still bent over the archive’s central table.
‘This,’ he said, and circled his hand over the papers in front of him, ‘this all belonged to someone who existed. Now all that’s left to mark his existence are cargo lists, household receipts, and half a letter to his land agent.’
‘That’s more than some have,’ Janet shrugged.
‘But how can someone be boiled down to so little? We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of time and know less than was once understood.’
‘We work with what we have.’
‘But it’s not enough!’
‘It must be. We can’t turn back time, only save what remains.’
I’ve spent most of today going through history books, journals, and archive online materials to write a post about the history of witchcraft in Shropshire, so I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my time in archives among old letters and documents. For those of you interested in Early Modern history I’ve included the link here.
I do wonder what it will be like for historians hundreds of years from now. If blogs will help with reconstructing the past, or if the overload of information will cause more chaos that clarity. Perhaps something will happen to destroy all the electronically archived information, and we will return to a world of paper and ink. If we are remembered, will it be accurately?