3.225 nature of e-mail (37)

Sat, 8 Jul 89 16:52:14 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 225. Saturday, 8 Jul 1989.

Date: Fri, 07 Jul 89 13:31:00 EDT
From: Merri Beth Lavagnino <LAV@YALEVM>
Subject: Trivialities

You asked for comments, and I have one.

I'd like to point out that correspondence, while not usually formal, is an
important source of information for scholars. I can think of several archival
collections in libraries that consist of purely correspondence. While these
usually focus on one or more important persons, what would we do today if
no one had kept any of the letters they received from persons who were not
especially important in their day? Or even from ones who WERE important?
Some of you humanists, I am sure, will one day be considered important enough
for future graduate students and scholars to study. Wouldn't it be wonderful
for them to be able to locate information about you? Even better, to locate
this "informal" communication, which may reveal more of your character and
personality than a "published" work would?

I can envision a library in the future cataloging a CD-ROM of early HUMANIST
correspondence, feeling grateful that they were able to acquire such an early
example of electronic mail. Then I can see the scholar poring over its
contents, able to get a vision of intellectual life in 1989, how technology
advanced, and how the 1989 scholar reacted.

Perhaps a bit farfetched, but perhaps not.

Merri Beth Lavagnino
Yale University Libraries