To echo the words of General MacArthur, “I have returned.” By the grace of Almighty God my feet stand again on Indiana soil. (Okay, so not quite as dramatic as liberating the Philippines, but I do like the dramatic sentiment of the dramatic first line of his speech. You can listen to the rest of the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv1PF0tAE1s)
First, I have returned back to the Indiana Historical Society where I spent a year interning and a summer serving as a collection assistant. We toured the vault and I saw parts of the Tom Cochran collection on the shelf, which I had processed when I was here. It was like seeing an old friend. Hi, Tom! (He was a news anchor in Indianapolis and I transferred several of his films to digital format). Also, I got to see the James Allison scrapbook of Riverdale, which I had also processed. Even years after being employed at IHS, researchers still have access to the collections I worked on! That’s a feeling of accomplishment and that my work matters so someone. (I have some suggestions for article topics from the collections I processed if anyone needs to write something)
Second, after two years of being away I am back again in my adopted Indiana home. I’ve been enjoying walking along the canal, gazing at the Statehouse in the purple dusk, looking at the city’s skyline, and seeing White River State park again. Today, on the 2nd day of SHA, we talked about place-making and the connection between human memory and places. Places have the most meaning when directly connected to the human experience. This stretch of downtown Indianapolis is dripping with memories and meaning for me: the bench where my best friend and I ate lunch every day, the library where I studied so often, the South Bend Chocolate Company’s patio on Monument Circle where my friends and I enjoyed cups of hot chocolate. I think that because the canon of my experiences in Indianapolis had been closed until now that my memories remain strong here – at home, where the canon of my experiences is still being written my memories and places are so much more free-flowing. Anyway, I do love my adopted Indiana home, even if I didn’t always love being here when I lived here. (It’s easier to love Indiana when you aren’t dealing with the climate anymore).
Anyway, here’s a quick summary of what we’re learning in SHA: we talked about the kinds of museum people and institutions: essentialists who love preserving artifacts for the artifact’s sake, adaptives who love to connect with an audience, and ideologists who work for the Man and see museums as simply a means to tow the party line. This is a framework that helps me understand the enormous frustration I have with my current employment situation: my institution is very much ideological (wants me to support the party line) while I definitely have essentialist and adaptive tendencies. I don’t WANT to tow the party line. This is helping me put words to a silent creeping unhappiness that I did’t know how to express before.
We also met several of the IHS staff members, and I got to meet a friend of one of my intellectual baby-sisters. (I’m not old enough to have intellectual children yet). I love my family of historians.