Monday, June 6, 2011
More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - What's Old is New
One of the most wonderful things about archives is their ability to connect the past to the present. Consider this nineteenth century postcard of two women sharing letters. As soon as I saw it, I thought of my best girlfriends. They are the women who are always there for me and who love me for who I am no matter what. They are the ones who always make me feel comfortable and at ease. They are the people with whom I share a laugh and who can make me happy even when I am in a terrible mood. Women's relationships have not changed all that much, have they?
This image reminds me of passing letters back and forth to high school pals, giggling over confessed secrets and prizing an unspoken understanding between us. I feel as if these women and I are part of some exclusive historical club of female bonding that is only separated by time. I was pleased to turn over the card to see written in pencil "my girlfriends May Doyle and Inez, Rose - Pearl Brown." Attaching names to faces, even if it never brings me more information than that, gives me another connection to these sisters from the past.
Lately, I have been talking a lot about communities as my colleague Sue West and I grow our "Life in Context" program. In addition to my connections to my girlfriends and to these women of the past, there is another connection at work with this image. I bought this postcard from an online site. I am a regular buyer here on this site, so I feel a community connection to it. Another thing I get out of this postcard is a connection to the particular woman who packaged it. She always packages my purchases carefully, includes a nice handwritten note, and puts a few "freebie" images inside the envelope for me. When I open the envelope, I get a whiff of a pleasant floral fragrance that reminds me of my grandmother. I wonder if the woman's house smells like this scent or if she specifically spritzes items that leave her possession as a little extra something special (This is not good from a preservation standpoint, but lovely from an old-fashioned, reminiscing, making something more personal standpoint.)
Archives have the ability to make us feel part of things larger than ourselves. I wish that I could meet these women, but I already feel as if I know them.