A memory. My family and I are driving across New York and Massachusetts. For my biography of Abraham Galloway, I am visiting the American Antiquarian Society, in Worcester, Mass. and the Rare and Special Collections Library at Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y.
Then I go to the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and to a small, but very fine manuscript collection at the Concord Public Library in Concord, Mass.
We also detour across the border to a provincial archive in Kingston, Ontario. Galloway escaped from slavery in Wilmington, N.C. in 1857. He followed the Underground Railroad first to Philadelphia, and then to Kingston.
The New England summer is beautiful. I am happy in the archives and my family finds joy in exploring the places I am working. While I am at Cornell, they are hiking at Ithaca Falls. When I am in Amherst, they are visiting Emily Dickinson’s home. When I am in Concord, they are touring Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house.
When the archives close their doors at five o’clock, I join them. We visit the graves of Thoreau, Emerson, the Alcotts and Hawthorne. We swim at Walden Pond in the fading summer light.