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Showing posts from March, 2011

Are Sources Ever Really Exhausted?

An email from a blog reader a little over a week ago got me wondering. How many valuable records are there out there that we don't search for because we don't know they exist? A number of years ago I discovered the Minnesota Historical Society has a collection of papers from James A. Smith, my husband's ancestor. It was an exciting find and I immediately called to see if I could get photocopies of everything in the file. I gave them my debit card number and waited for the envelope. Nothing came and I thought, "Oh, well." And then a box arrived--a box with three or four inches of paper and a receipt for more than I usually pay for a week's worth of groceries. I was a bit poorer than I had expected to be but I was elated. Most of the papers documented activities of the Northwest Fur Company in the mid-1860s (James was a partner) but there were also some land records and other miscellaneous items. A few years later I was able to go to the Minnesota Historic