page 1 of the Emeline Foot Blood letter in the Clements Library at the University of Michigan linked below
It will be a long time until digital history replaces traditional archival research (if it ever does). Not because paper is superior to pixels. But because the digitization of primary sources is expensive and requires a human being to identify and prioritize the material to be digitized.
Scholars who make in-person visits to archives have the ability to sift and prioritize primary sources for themselves, not depend a curator’s sense of importance. Collections are so vast that it may be decades before the majority are available in their entirety as digital images to be sifted by anyone with an Internet connection.
In the mean time, little finds like the two new letters below are popping up on the Net regularly. A research tip is that if an institution has set up the metadata correctly, Google Images finds the links –because digitization projects host images –with more regularity than content-based search engines do.
(This is probably not true for searches conducted through meta-search engines available by subscription at research institutions. But the average researcher does not have access to these from a home computer.)
Two letters in the University of Michigan’s Native American History Collection, hosted on-line in its American Encounters exhibit, are today’s example:
- Letter from Charlie to his sister, St. Paul [Minnesota] August 26, 1862
- Emeline Foot Blood to her cousin February 23, 1863
Although we don’t know who Charlie was beyond what he tells us–he was ill and sent to Minnesota for his health, where he happened to be an observer in St. Paul to the exodus of settler refugees from the frontier and the newspaper coverage of the war –the Emeline Foot letter adds news layers to the saga of the Silas and Adeline Foot family, already a fixture in the lore of the Dakota War of 1862.
Digital images plus transcriptions in the Native American History Collection at The Clements Library at the University of Michigan.