For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been researching and editing a history paper about Indiana Quakers and slavery I wrote last semester for an upcoming competition. My research led me to the Indiana State Library last Thursday, where I sat down with a letter from Levi Coffin and every Indiana Yearly Meeting Minutes record I could ever want. For three and a half hours I sat in a hard-backed wooden chair and poured over those minutes, thinking about the people who created them 180 years ago. A man across the aisle from me looked at several large maps intently, and stacks of other documents waited in the wings inside climate controlled rooms and drawers.
It’s a beautiful thing, hundreds of documents waiting to be read by some twenty-first century person who prefers paper to pixels.