English 1101- Prof. Gold
Over the history of mankind many catastrophic events have taken place, which have shaped society today. An easy 90 % of these events were not recorded and can’t be traced back. Present day archivists such as the Brooklyn Historical Society work to save and preserve any kind of item, book, map, picture and etc., which may in the future be considered history. Having organizations such as the BHS, preserving artifacts is an easier job to do. Being able to decide what is important and how to preserve these artifacts is a hard process. As well, being able to interpret and figure out the bigger message is an even harder continuous process. Being able to visit the Brooklyn Historical Society personally makes you have a deeper appreciation for history and honestly it’s a great experience.
During my first visit to the Brooklyn Historical Society, I was a little doubtful of how it would go. I was brought to a rude awakening when I saw the beautifully built library shadowing over Pierrepont St. Hearing the introductory speech and seeing the old pieces of work around me, I was suddenly very interested in Brooklyn history. The first assignment was to split up into groups, and analyze three different maps of the same general area. We looked at a fire insurance company map of 1908 and compared it to a similar one of 1874 and 2011. As a group we split up the similarities/differences and thought about why the changes happened. While looking at these maps one has to think why is it important and what messages are being conveyed through the several maps. Why save maps? What help are they? What can we see through maps? These may be some questions that arise when thinking why to preserve certain artifacts over others. What am I seeing? Why is this map different than this one? What is going on this area that cause so much change? More questions arise when you are trying to find the meaning of certain artifacts. The point is archival research and preservation is a complicated process that not everyone is up to do.
Most of the more preserved writing of history is still worldwide phenomenon. Take the great playwright William Shakespeare and think of his genius. How did he lay his thoughts out? What did he research, and how? How long did it take him to write lets say “Hamlet”? These are all questions that may come up when thinking of maybe the greatest playwrights that ever lived. When researching about someone like Shakespeare, one would love to know his original steps, his record keeping and even original notes or annotations. This could well connect to our research at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The way information is stored and preserved has changed over the years. Organizations like the Brooklyn Historical Society are great with understanding the importance of originality. If Shakespeare had worked or was affiliated with the Brooklyn Historical Society then maybe some of his works may be beneath everyone’s grasps. Something like an ancient hard drive would be more than a precious artifact for the library.
When we think about the works of art around us, we don’t really always appreciate what we see. The most amazing pieces of art in the world were started by an idea of a person of some lifetime and usually this person’s idea isn’t “preserved” or saved. The beginning brainstorming ideas are just as important as the final project or maybe even more important. When I think of some of the greatest artists that should be preserved in my lifetime, I can’t keep out people like J.K Rowling (author), Santiago Calatrava Valls (architect) and even Eminem (rapper). These people without much argument can be seen as very iconic people of the 21st century. Rowling definitely is not Shakespeare, but can very well be considered “The 21st Century Shakespeare”. Her creation of the Harry Potter books have been a worldwide sensation for as long I can remember. While her works might not equal maybe Hamlet, or King Leer, we can sort of say it does. Being a worldwide sensation is not an easy task to accomplish. For me if I want someone in the future to know about 21st century writing I will direct them to the Harry Potter books. All of her ideas on how to write and what is writing a good book should be stored away for future generations to see. What do you think writing would be like if we still had Shakespeare’s “blueprints” of his writings? It goes for the other two artists I have listed. People like Santiago Calatrava Valls, and Eminem are in my opinion the best at what they do. Being on top of your game should allow you to be an icon in the century you live in. Calatrava is a concrete architect genius. The same could be said for Eminem. He is a rapping genius. When future generations want to see evidence and preservation of the greatest artists of my time I want them to see these three people. ”A memory should be remembered because the remembering of this memory is unforgettable.” (Jeffrey)
The point is how do we know what should be saved. In my opinion anything that shows and represents our society as a whole should be preserved as an archive. When people in the future want to research anything about the 21st century they should have access to everything from music, literature, fashion, public newspapers ad etc. A lot should be preserved but at the same time people should be able to interpret things on their own. Nothing is set in stone and to some extent is a very good thing. This open-ended feeling is there for us to use our minds and knowledge and not just read it off of a reference book or something. We know there is more than just the first website we pass by while preparing for a research paper. That is the hunger that should be bursting through us while wanting to know the real truth. When something is set in stone, the answers are there for us and that’s it case closed. Maybe the missing links, burns in a book, cracks in a hard drive are there for the researcher to fill with his opinion and support of knowledge. The artifacts in the BHS are mainly hand written and sometimes very hard to read. We also don’t have every single detail of every single piece of history, either. The detail is not important but the thought of the missing puzzle piece is. Knowing that theirs something else and being able to acknowledge that is just as important as the final revision of an essay.
The Brooklyn Historical Society is a great way to research documents in a first person kind of way. The originals of many important documentation is present their at the library. Artifacts of any sort are a great way to tap into the past to understand a concept otherwise not able to understand. It was an exciting experience especially for my first semester in college. I’m happy I was able to take this class and I think it would help me for the rest of my classes in college.
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