Monday, September 29, 2008

Well, I've tried! There's this electronic database of eighteenth century printed sources, called Eighteenth Century Collections Online. It is fabulous - I can't get enough of it, and I find it really exciting. I can access it through my Glasgow University Library account. Hundreds and hundreds of digitised books from the C18th. I tried to explain the romance of it all to my boss today. I'm not convinced that I convinced her.

I tried to explain it to my middle son, aged 12, just now. He could just about understand how exciting it was to be sitting in a warm house with electric light and a computer, looking at an electronic "photocopy" of something that was first read 218 years ago by candle or oil-lamp in Edinburgh town.

When I tried to explain it to SuperSpouse, though, he was as bemused as my boss. So I won't try to explain to any of them the excitement of finding a squashed fly between the folios of a mediaeval plainsong manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and wondering if it was actually a mediaeval fly ...

I ask you - where's their sense of history? Do they not have that feeling of being somehow connected with real people from all those years ago?
Images from Gale Digital Collections, with very grateful acknowledgements.

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