In our first installment, Squadratomagico wrote of her research inside a “secret agent”-like labyrinth of a modern archive. In today’s installment, “Thrown Off the Plantation,” Clio Bluestocking writes of a menacing encounter with a self-appointed enforcer of her version of historical correctness near Wye House, a plantation on which Frederick Douglass was enslaved as a young child. I don’t want to spoil the suspense of her tale, so you’re just going to have to click and read it yourself, but here’s a taste of what you might see: “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in haunted places, it’s just that the living are the haints.”
Clio B. is a singular example of a pseudonymous scholar-blogger who writes about her subject and area of research expertise very explicitly. She understands the powerful possibilities of publishing under a pseudonym: her writing can be much more self-revealing and personal than those of us who are “out” history bloggers. Her brilliant insights from her research on Frederick Douglass and his sister, public history, historical kitsch, and her observations about the collisions of the past and the present are fascinating, and sometimes deeply disturbing.
Have any of you readers ever been chased away or lectured by a local who was hostile to or angered by your interest in researching the past? My own fields of research are so obscure that I’ve been warmly welcomed by the proprietors of local and private archives, who are excited and even touched that a professional historian is interested in their organization’s or community’s history. I don’t have any tales of being run out of town like Clio B.’s, but, I’ll be interested to hear yours.