O Historians, How Many Archives Have YOU Visited?

My friend and library buddy Scott Sowerby turned in his dissertation today. (In Harvard parlance, this means he sent it off to be read and approved by each of his committee members. Our department does not require an oral defense.)

Scott dropped by my carrel, which is just down the hall from his, to tell me this news. After many congratulations, he told me he spent a long time on the bibliography. Really? Why?

It turns out Scott visited no fewer than 127 archives while doing his research, all of which had to be listed in his bibliography. That doesn’t include, he tells me, all the archives whose manuscripts he consulted on microfilm. He wrote me in an email this evening that he was surprised that the number was so high, but that visiting all those municipal archives added up.

I guess so!

I’ve mentioned Scott on my blog before; he was featured in the Harvard Gazette a few years ago in a story about one of his finds in a little archive in the north of England.

So, congratulations, Scott! We eagerly await The Book.


7 thoughts on “

  1. I went to a grand total of 5 archives for my PhD (but I copped out from the start by doing a county-based study). 127 is just mindboggling.(And on the James II story – I’m not sure just how genuine James was in his religious toleration, but I agree with Scott that he’s been treated unfairly over the centuries. So I’d like to see the book too!)

  2. Well, Scott has 480 pages of genuine, down-home tolerationist James II! The proof will be in the pudding when it comes out. :)I feel lazy too. I’ve been to 5 archives as well, which seemed like so many until…No reviewer will be able to claim that Scott’s book was not exhaustively researched!

  3. 127 archives? I am NEVER going to finish my dissertation…. ;)(also, no oral defence? the viva is regarded here with the kind of trepidation reserved for something between root canal and court martial! – and yes, people do fail them)

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