Last week, I flew out to Boston to complete archival research for my honors thesis at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. It was incredible! If I wasn't a history nerd before (I was), it is surely obvious now, especially since I just threw out the words "archival" and "historical society" at you. Often when I tell people what I am researching, I am met with blank stares - it is an obscure topic in a faraway time in colonial American history. However, when I was at the historical society, I got to hold in my hands letters and journals that dated back to the 1600s. Many of them were penned by the very men I am studying. It was absolutely incredible to be so close to the humanity of history. It is surely not obscure anymore - at least in my mind.
I was able to complete this trip because of an individual research grant I received from the University of Colorado Boulder's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program in March. This work greatly aided me in filling out my research for my honors thesis (which is critical for my graduate school entry), so I am very thankful. And to be able to return to a city that I lived in for four years is even better. I got to see old friends, and meet new ones, too.
I spent three days at the Massachusetts Historical Society, sifting through letters and journals belonging to John Winthrop and his son, John Winthrop Jr. I could not believe that they were letting me touch them with my bare fingers! I know that some items have more strict policies, but this was a treat. I also looked through the Andros Proceedings, which document royal council meetings held in Boston right before the Glorious Revolution played out in the colonies. It was a very heated and tumultuous time in the colonies, and I am researching, in part, how the Glorious Revolution impacted British North America and whether or not it laid road for the American Revolution a century later. Finally, I got to look through the Mather Papers - but only on microfilm. That was disappointing, but I suppose that I will be able to study the actual documents at a later date. The building of the MHS is a wonder in itself. It is regal while also small, and stately while also welcoming and warm. I loved spending time there. The research assistant, Andrea, also gave me a quick tour of the upstairs gallery. They had an exhibit on the Revolutionary War at the time, which was a real treat. Needless to say, I cannot wait to go back.
While I was there, I was able to connect with the mentor of my academic mentor (Dr. Lawrence Holcomb, who passed last year), Dr. Gordie Fellman of Brandeis University's Sociology department. We enjoyed talking about Dr. H, as well as politics and religion. It was fun to "talk shop" a bit, but I have to be honest, it was quite emotional, especially since I just finished reading Dr. H's dissertation on psycho-analytic social psychology and race. With everything going on with race relations this summer, I am missing my professor more than ever.
I so wish I could talk with him.
And then, of course, Friday came along! I am so glad that I was able to celebrate nationwide marriage equality (!!!!) in Boston. What an incredible time we live in. There are heartbreaking acts of discrimination and murder going on all around the world. The inequality is seemingly insurmountable at times. But then! The people rise up, and demand justice. It is such a gift to be able to bear witness to justice being delivered to those who have been waiting so eagerly for it. I am not ignorant to the fact that I have been given a great amount of privilege, and so I want to do whatever I can with that privilege to serve others. It is the only thing that can calm my aching heart at times when I hear about the terrible atrocities that are going on around the world. I suppose this is the life of a sociologist, is it not? To perceive is to bear a substantial burden. I am convinced that clinging to hope is the only way my open heart will survive in this messed up world.
Boston, I miss you already!