Dilemnas of a Researcher

As I have read in many history books, they all have one thing in common – the author or authors said that many individuals are required to gather, shape and digest all the available information on the topic under research. Many of the individuals have lived through the event, others have knowledge from family members who lived through it and still others have collected many of their family histories and have them stored away. These “stored” documents may include letters, photographs and artifacts of that time. A photograph can tell a great deal about a place, as the old saying goes, “a picture can tell a thousand words.”

Thus, researchers do not do their research in isolation. Granted there are many hours spent in libraries, museums and special collections but then there is the reward of  interviewing “old timers”. New friendships are cultivated that would not have happened if that researcher or researchers did not want to know more. And thus, one more piece of the puzzle found helps to tell a fuller story for future generations to know what took place in the past. That information is now made public through books, magazine articles, presentations, blogs, etc.

While some history is dull and mundane to one person it may be enlightening to another as it helps them understand the larger picture. I have always found reading a variety of genres has enriched my life. It may be just for fun reading as a fictional book or it may be very in-depth study of a subject such as astronomy or religion. Some allow our imaginations to work overtime wondering how the writer thought of the idea as in science fiction that I love to read for total relaxation.

So, as I bring you the history of the sheep industry in Arizona through this blog, my goal is to enlighten those interested in this topic, tell the family histories of the men and women who worked hard and helped build this industry and the state of Arizona – the history that has been hidden in old boxes, on dusty shelves and trunks of museums and in family closets so the history is preserved. Some history of the sheep industry has recently been discovered when someone told me that they bought the contents of a storage shed and inside found a box containing 40 odd years of records for one sheep rancher! The family has been contacted for them to go through and then hopefully it will be passed on to me or a museum.

So, bear with me as I jump around in years and families. Research takes time and new information is being located all the time. Newspapers get digitized. Family members come forward to tell me their story as something previously written has jogged a memory buried deep in their minds or reminds them of something else that was happening along with the event I am bringing forward.  It takes time to digest all the information and then bring that history to life. I love what I do but there are not enough hours in a day……

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