An Introduction: Love in the Archives

This is the beginning of a new series that I am calling “Love in the Archives.” Here I’ll chronicle what happens as I explore history in museums, archives and libraries around the U.S. and beyond.


The Beinecke Library at Yale. Photo by David Cecelski

For me the research that goes into creating a new work of history has always been as exciting as the book, the article or the lecture that is the end result of that research.

You meet people. You see things. You hear stories. You have adventures.

You wrestle with what you know, what you thought you knew and what can be known.

Things happen that you can’t put in your book. You get frustrated to tears. You take what you’ve discovered personally. You think about your own place on this earth and the passage of time.

You discover things that will knock your socks off.


From the Charles A. Farrell Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

So let’s get started. I’ll begin this series in the next day or two with a dark, but important story about star-crossed lovers and a mob in a Primitive Baptist cemetery in Williamston, N.C., in 1925.

After that, I’ll take you to the National Archives, the British Library, the Catholic diocesan archives in Raleigh, N.C., the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and a private archive in the foothills of Virginia that had never previously been open to scholars or the general public. And that’s just for starters.



Raleigh, N.C. January 2017.

I hope you will enjoy “Love in the Archives.” I hope you find it entertaining, challenging and useful. I hope you learn a little history. More than anything, I hope you might be inspired to undertake your own journey into whatever unchartered territory is calling you.


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