Using Primary Resources to Research, Elucidate, and Inform a Curious Public about Local History

The talk given at the archival center in Jonzac, France the other night was very interesting. The talk was given by Olivier Caudron, an archivist who works in the main regional archival branch for the Charente-Maritime, which is located in La Rochelle.

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, the lecture focuses on  people of color in the central-western region of France, around the 18th and 19th centuries. Using primary as well as secondary sources to conduct his research, Caudron elucidated how people of color came to live in this region of France, as well as their social and economic status during this period of history. Examples of primary and secondary sources used in this presentation included, for example, letters, statutes, census records, paintings, and previous research done by other scholars in the form of books and articles.

I found this lecture enlightening and informative. What a great idea to use local, primary resources to give in-person informal lectures to a curious public. There has been, and will surely continue to be, great interest in the digitization of local archives in the United States and abroad. On the other hand, I think that the idea of librarians offering informal lectures of this sort to the local public is an extremely important and effective way of getting people interested and excited in local history.


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