Reading an unreadable copy of a microfilmed newspaper

 I’ve shown y’all some examples before of difficult historical handwriting. This is the digitized version of the microfilm copy of the 1859 Pella Gazette  (in Iowa). It’s about politics. I’m reading hours of this stuff and its like listening to a record that is 50% static. At least it is in English.
There is plenty you can gain from context, and having read issue after issue of the newspaper, I have a general idea about what is going on.  The Lecompton Constitution in Kansas has been big news. The editor has turned against President Buchanan, because Buchanan appears to only support the Southern slaveowning aristocrats, and not the free white immigrants who want to spread freedom into the western states.
But, since I have many other issues to read, the marginal value of each article is less. It really make no sense to spend time attempting to decipher this passage.  There is a chance, of course, that this is going to be the missing link, the key piece of evidence for the whole story that I want to tell. But, more likely, what the guy I’m interesting in is saying here, he is also saying elsewhere. I need to look for my evidence where the light shines brightest, and only investigate these shadows if I get a hunch about them. Still, its a detective puzzle, and deciding how much time to spend on this is an important skill of a productive historian.
Image may contain: text


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: