The Love/Hate Challenge: 10 Things I Love and Hate About Historical Research

Photo Source: GrowingUpKaterTot

Photo Source: GrowingUpKaterTot


Last week, I was asked by my awesome blogging friend Jazzfeathers to participate in a blogging challenge: the Love/Hate Challenge. The only thing you have to do is write ten things you love, then ten things you hate. She did hers about writing, which you can see here. Mine will be about historical research, because I spend a lot of time doing that for this blog!

Ten Things I Love About Historical Research:

1) That feeling you get when you finally track down that elusive source you’ve dug through ten different bibliographies to find!

2) Skimming indexes andΒ bibliographies, just because! πŸ™‚

3) Making the Reference Department at my local library track down some obscure newspaper article from 1927 that I’d never find on my own—and making me a copy from the microfiche, too! πŸ™‚

4) When you’re researching something else and find a new bit of really cool new info that spurs you to read up on that new thing, which leads to the next thing, and the next, and so on…

5) That cool and slightly creepy sensation you get when all the things you’ve been researching fall into place and they’re absolutely PERFECT for whatever you’re writing

6) Coming across new information that changes everything, gives you a new perspective, and forces you to reexamine everything else you’ve read—but in a good way. πŸ™‚

7) Looking at all the articles for a single year in the Chicago Tribune archives: it’s like going back in time! πŸ˜‰

8) Using the ILL department of my home library, since they’re so nice about getting obscure stuff for me from all over the country. Thanks to all the other ILL departments out there for sending things, too!

9) When I finish the last book in my giant reference pile! πŸ™‚

10) Leafing throughΒ a primary source book from the 1800s/1900s that’s in gorgeous condition, with original bookplates and photos and everything…

Ten Things I Hate About Historical Research:

1) Using and trusting Source A for a while, only to find out from Source B, C, and D that Source A is considered a pack of lies and no one should ever use it for anything ever.

2) That feeling you get when you finally track down that elusive source you’ve dug through ten different bibliographies to find…only to discover it wasn’t worth reading at all! :p

3) The book you put on hold at the library via ILL and waited a month to get, only to discover it’s not what you thought it was…

4) Having to return a great source to the library when you still really really really need it! πŸ˜‰

5) When you remember this cool bit of info you read somewhere and really, really want to use it in your book/blog, but you can’t find it anywhere!

6) When you really, really need that one tiny piece of obscure information for whatever you’re writing, such as how much a cup of coffee cost in 1927, but you can’t find it anywhere…

7) When all your sources refer to this one other source, but you can’t find it anywhere—or you do, but it’s in some language you can’t read and the only copy in the entire world is in some tiny library in Holland that will never send their copy to you ever (this happened to me a LOT back when I was writing my Ancient Egyptian YA book…)

8) Trying to understand a difficult primary source. Was that line about cats considered a joke at the time, or is it meant to be taken seriously? and so on. Sometimes the past really *is* a foreign country…

9) Reading ten books on one subject and learning nothing new—because they’re just referencing one another’s work!

10) Microfiche. No. Just, no.


What about all of you? What do you love—or hate—about historical research? Please share in the Comments below! πŸ™‚


About lupachi1927

My name's Megan, and I'm a writer with an interest in history. While I might not be a real historian, I'm a very thorough researcher. This blog is my place to post about all the interesting historical tidbits I find that can't use in the novel I'm working on, which takes place in Chicago in 1927. If you're looking for research help, writing feedback, or just want to say hi, feel free to drop me a line! :)
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3 Responses to The Love/Hate Challenge: 10 Things I Love and Hate About Historical Research

  1. jazzfeathers says:

    Great list… and I can relate to it SO MUCH πŸ˜‰ Especially like ‘love’ list. Less so to the ‘hate’ list, because I don’t relay on libreries very much… seen as I’m on the other side of the world πŸ˜‰ Much of my reserch is done on books I own, or on resources I can find online (Librery of Congress, I love you!)

    You hate microfiches? Noooo! I love microfiches! They’re so diesel!!!!


    • lupachi1927 says:

      Yeah I think my hate list was a bit of a stretch at points but it was a fun challenge, so thanks! What about you? What kind of research frustrations do you have, given your situation? Hehe yeah microfiche is pretty diesel, now that you mention it…I just find it hard to use. Give me scanned online documents any day, I say! πŸ˜‰


      • jazzfeathers says:

        Well, as you can imagine, what frustrates me the most is knowing there is a wealth of info in American libreries I have no access to. Even scanning back issues of newspapers is very hard for me, because usually I have a very limited access to archives and normally only after paying a fee.

        Eh… I’ve done my best doing with books and material online. I’ve come across some very interesting file online… after searching and searching and searching. Cursory reserch online is good at the beginning, when you’re trying to get a feeling for the time. It’s also good for perusing bibliographies, so that then I can get the book on a store or another. But if you persist, you can also find documents which are very specific and with info that is hard to find elsewhere.

        As you aptly implicitly pointed out in you lists, reaserch is a matter of patience and persistence πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

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