J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

A Busy Day

Yesterday I hit two archives, and got hit once.

At the National Archives and Records Administration’s Waltham facility, I found some correspondence I was seeking about Col. Richard Gridley, the first commander of the American artillery regiment. With friendly staff help, that took only half an hour, so I got back in the car and drove west to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester.

I was waiting for an opening in traffic to make the last turn toward that facility when—BOMP!—I got rear-ended. The other car hit hard enough for its grille to shatter, its hood to buckle, and its headlights to go cross-eyed. The driver then found she couldn’t swing her door open. Yet all the damage I could find on my car was a hole in the plastic bumper and a nasty noise—which later went away after three miles. No damage to me or my microfilm printouts from Waltham.

So after exchanging info with the other driver, I went into the A.A.S. to collect the info I was really interested in—material about Col. James Barrett of Concord. I first read about this material in George A. Billias’s biography of Elbridge Gerry, but that book cited “volumes” in a collection that appeared nowhere in the online catalogue. It turned out that in the late 1970s, after Billias published, the A.A.S. disassembled those volumes—scrapbooks, really—and filed the individual documents in folders for easier preservation and consultation. Along the way, the collection got a slightly different name. Again, with friendly staff help, I found some good stuff, which I’ll describe eventually.

But today I’m dealing with the car.


A. Wellwisher said...

I keep hoping for an update -- are you all right?

J. L. Bell said...

Sorry—I thought I was clear about suffering no personal damage. The car’s being checked today. I’m filling out the state’s three-page accident report form, which is a historical project in itself.