People often ask me where I find the stories I post on this blog. That’s a good question and I plan to answer it. But I’ve discovered there’s no short simple answer.
I’ve been looking for first-person accounts of early travel to Yellowstone Park for almost a decade and have more than 300 of them in my collection. But I know there are thousands more out there. It’s still a thrill to find a good one.
I compare my efforts to those of nineteenth century prospectors searching for gold. Sometimes they saw huge nuggets lying on the surface, so they could just bend over and pick them up. Sometimes they had to shift through tons of sand and gravel to gather a few ounces of gold dust. And sometimes they had to blast their way through solid rock just to locate a small vein.
It will take several posts to explain that metaphor so for now I’ll list a few of the topics I’m thinking about discussing. I’d like you to tell me which ones you find interesting and what you’d like to know.
- It helps to know what you’re looking for: What’s a story?
- Sometimes the best stories are the worst history: Differences between journals, articles and reminiscences.
- Just pull them off the shelf: There are great stories at your local library.
- Let other people do the hard work: Working at special collections, museums and archives
- Download it for free: Project Gutenberg, Google Books, and The Making of America Collection.
- Looking for pictures to bring a story to life. The Yellowstone Digital Slide File and other repositories of photos and illustrations.
That’s enough to get us started. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.
— Image adapted from an F.J. Haynes postcard, Yellowstone Digital Slide File.